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Houthi fighters ride on trucks mounted with weapons during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the rebel movement in Sanaa, Yemen, on August 1, 2019. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

In Yemen, gunmen abduct former journalist Abdel Hafiz al-Samadi

August 9, 2019 11:56 AM ET

Gunmen in civilian clothing abducted Abdel Hafiz al-Samadi from his house in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July 27, 2019, according to a statement from the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and the Saudi network Al-Arabiya.

The syndicate, citing his family, reported that an unspecified number of masked gunmen pulled up to al-Samadi’s house in a taxi, bus, and a Toyota Hilux and took him to an unknown destination.

Al-Arabiya reported that al-Samadi quit his career in journalism in 2014. Al-Samadi wrote for the independent daily Akhbar al-Youm until that year, and published pieces in the newspaper in 2016 and 2018. Al-Samadi’s writing for the paper analyzed Yemeni politics and criticized corruption and unemployment under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, while also casting a wary eye on the 2011-12 uprising that led to his departure. His last column for the paper in 2018 speculated that an increased role for women in Yemeni politics could replace the country’s tribal-centric political structure.

Sanaa is under the control of the Ansar Allah group, also known as the Houthis. Al-Arabiya identified the captors as being Houthi, while the syndicate cited the family as saying they came from “security forces reporting to local authorities.” A spokesperson for Ansar Allah did not immediately return CPJ’s email requesting comment.

Al-Samadi did not write about the Houthis, but the paper is editorially aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government based in Aden, which the Houthis are fighting.

Since leaving journalism, al-Samadi has been driving a taxi to support his family, according to the local online news outlet al-Mashhad al-Yemeni.

CPJ has previously documented the Houthi abduction of journalists, including long after they stopped being active in their careers. The Houthis have held at least 10 journalists for more than four years, and a lawyer representing them told CPJ the Houthis would put them on trial this summer.

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