Yemeni journalist Tawfiq al-Mansouri's health has seen a sharp decline while in the custody of the Ansar Allah movement. (Photo: Mohmmed Alamad)

Yemeni journalist Tawfiq al-Mansouri health critical in Houthi detention

New York, August 1, 2022 – Members of Yemen’s Ansar Allah movement should release journalist Tawfiq al-Mansouri immediately and ensure he receives proper medical treatment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

Forces affiliated with the Ansar Allah movement, known as the Houthis, detained al-Mansouri, a graphic designer for the Al-Masdar newspaper and other outlets, in 2015, and sentenced him to death in 2020, as CPJ has documented.

On July 28, 2022, the journalist’s brother, Abdullah al-Mansouri, told CPJ via messaging app and released a public statement saying that al-Mansouri’s health had recently seen a sharp decline, leading the family to believe his life was in danger. He said al-Mansouri has been suffering from diabetes, heart disease, swelling in his limbs and prostate, and shortness of breath. He added that guards at his detention facility had denied him access to healthcare and food, and had beaten him up.

“The Houthis’ treatment of Yemeni journalists increasingly amounts to a brazen display of abject cruelty,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “The Houthis must release Tawfiq al-Mansouri and all other detained journalists immediately and not hinder their access to medical treatment.”

Mohammad Abdulsalam, a spokesman for Ansar Allah, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

Houthi forces detained al-Mansouri alongside eight others July 9, 2015, at a hotel lobby in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on current and former journalists. Journalists detained by the Houthis previously told CPJ that the group targeted them regardless of what roles they had at media outlets or when they had worked there.

Abdullah al-Mansouri told CPJ that his brother was first held in the Houthis’ Political Security Directorate, was transferred to the group’s Central Security Base prison in May 2020, and that authorities have not allowed his family to visit him since the transfer.

Abdel Majeed Farea Sabra, al-Mansouri’s lawyer, confirmed to CPJ via messaging app that the journalist’s health had declined sharply and that his family was barred from visiting him.

In a statement released by al-Mansouri’s family, which CPJ reviewed, his relatives said the director of the Central Security Base threatened Tawfiq with “a slow death” in detention.

When a court proceeding set up by the Houthis sentenced al-Mansouri to death in April 2020, it also sentenced journalists Abdulkhaleq Amran, Akram al-Waleedi, and Hareth Hameed, all of whom were also detained in 2015; all four remain on death row and face abuse and neglect at the hands of Houthi authorities, as CPJ has documented.