Homes of two Yemeni journalists attacked

New York, November 15, 2012–Yemeni authorities must immediately investigate separate attacks on the homes of two journalists in the southern province of Daleh, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“These attacks are completely intolerable, and the Yemeni government must immediately take action to show its commitment to protecting journalists,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Authorities have a duty to enforce the law and must bring an immediate end to these tactics designed to intimidate the press into silence.”

On November 6, unidentified men set fire to the home of Ali al-Asmar, a freelance reporter who contributes to several local news websites and is the media spokesperson for the local National Council, according to local news reports. Al-Asmar said the fire damaged much of his house and occurred a half-hour after he and his family had left the premises, news reports said.

Al-Asmar said the attack may have been sparked by his articles criticizing the Southern Movement for failing to condemn violent acts by its members, according to news reports. The Southern Movement is a largely peaceful secessionist movement in southern Yemen that calls for independence from the rest of the country. Al-Asmar said he had received unspecified threats the week before from who he believed were members and leaders in the Southern Movement, news reports said.

On October 30, two unidentified men threw two explosives at the courtyard of the house of Abdul Aziz al-Laith, a correspondent for local TV station Yemen Youth, according to news reports. The bombs caused a fire in al-Laith’s house, but no one was hurt, news reports said. Al-Laith said he believed the attack was related to his coverage of state corruption and the ongoing protests in Daleh province that supported the Southern Movement, news reports said.

In an unrelated development, Justice Minister Murshid Ali al-Arashani called on President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in early November to pardon imprisoned journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea, echoing calls by the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and international human rights groups, according to news reports. Shaea, a freelance journalist known for his coverage of Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is serving a five-year term on anti-state charges, CPJ research shows. In February 2011, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh had pardoned the journalist but reversed the decision after U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern over his release, news reports said.

CPJ has documented a stream of attacks against journalists in Yemen since political unrest erupted last year, including deaths, physical assaults, detentions, harassments, and attacks on news outlets.

  • For more data and analysis on Yemen, visit CPJ’s Yemen page here.