Yemeni freelance journalist Hala Fuad Badhawi was recently detained in Hadramout. (Screenshot: Facebook/Hala Fuad)

Yemeni journalist Hala Fuad Badhawi detained in Hadramout

New York, January 5, 2022 – Authorities in Hadramout, Yemen, should immediately and unconditionally release freelance journalist Hala Fuad Badhawi, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On December 30, 2021, military intelligence forces in Hadramout province detained Badhawi in the provincial capital, Mokalla, according to reports by the privately owned Yemeni newspapers Al-Masdar and Al-Ayyam, and a Facebook post by the journalist.

Nabil Alosaidi, co-chair of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, a local trade group and press freedom organization, told CPJ via messaging app that Badhawi was detained because of her writing on corruption in the province. Authorities in Hadramout are affiliated with the internationally recognized Yemeni government, but operate with a high degree of autonomy.

After the publication of this article, the Gulf Center for Human Rights, a Beirut-based regionally focused human rights group, reported that authorities had moved Badhawi to Mokalla’s central prison on January 4. Alosaidi told CPJ that Badhawi would soon be referred to prosecutors on charges of membership in a terrorist cell, incitement to destabilize local security, and smuggling improvised explosive devices. 

“By using military intelligence to go after an independent journalist, authorities in Yemen’s Hadramout province are demonstrating how far they will go to silence criticism,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Hadramout authorities must release Hala Fuad Badhawi immediately and end their campaign against critical journalists.”

Badhawi frequently posts reporting on governance, corruption, and quality of life issues in Hadramout on her Facebook page, where she has about 8,600 followers. She recently posted on topics including alleged corruption in the education sector and road accidents caused by neglect of local infrastructure.

Badhawi was previously detained in February 2021 alongside two other journalists after covering protests in Mokalla, and refused to sign a pledge promising not to cover similar protests in the future, as CPJ documented at the time.

Separately, Hadramout authorities charged exiled journalists Awad Kashmeem and Sabri Bin Makhashen in absentia with disturbing social peace and undermining military operations, according to the London-based news website Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, which disclosed those charges in December 2021.

Bin Makhashen, a freelance journalist, told CPJ via messaging app that authorities had previously arrested him in December 2018 and held him for two months, releasing him after forcing his family members to promise that they would prevent him from writing or practicing journalism.

Kashmeem, a columnist with the Aden al-Ghad newspaper, was previously detained by Hadramout military forces in February 2018, as CPJ documented at the time.

CPJ emailed Hadramout Governor Faraj al-Bahasni for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.

[Editors’ note: This article has been changed throughout to correct a misspelling in Badhawi’s name, and has been updated in its fourth paragraph to reflect her most recently known location and status.]