Journalist Naseh Shakar appears on CNN in April. Reports say Shakar was en route to attend a hostile environment training course in Beirut on November 21 but never reached his destination. (Screenshot: CNN/YouTube)

CPJ alarmed by disappearance of Yemeni journalist Naseh Shaker

New York, December 1, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply alarmed by the disappearance of Yemeni journalist Naseh Shaker and calls on the Southern Transitional Council (STC), the de facto authority in southern Yemen, to disclose his whereabouts.

Shaker was last heard from on November 19, when he spoke to his mother at around 5:30 a.m. from the southern city of Aden. He had traveled there overnight from his home in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, to fly to Lebanon, where he was due to attend a security training course on November 21, according to his brother, Abdullah Ahmad Shaker, who spoke to CPJ, and multiple news reports.

Shaker did not catch his flight out of Aden or respond to any subsequent calls or messages from his family, and his mobile phone was switched off, the journalist’s brother told CPJ.

Nabil Alosaidi of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, a local advocacy group, told CPJ he believed that Shaker had been arrested by the STC, one of three groups that control part of Yemen, which has been mired in civil war since 2015. Alosaidi did not provide any further details.

“Naser Shaker has been a credible source of news for several major international media outlets for years, reporting on the terrible humanitarian crisis in Yemen and its long-running conflict,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour in Washington, D.C. “The STC must immediately reveal the whereabouts of Shaker and hold accountable those responsible for his disappearance.”

The Samir Kassir Foundation, a Beirut-based press freedom group which organized the training that Shaker was due to attend, and the London-based Rory Peck Trust, which supports freelance journalists, also told CPJ they believed that Shaker was being held in a prison run by the STC, a United Arab Emirates-backed secessionist group that aims to establish an independent state in southern Yemen.

The two rights groups said they believed that Shaker had been forcibly disappeared, which is a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Shaker is a renowned freelance journalist and a regular contributor to Al-Jazeera English, the London-based news website Middle East Eye, and the U.S.-Congress funded Voice of America.

The STC was also implicated in the August 2022 arrest of freelance journalist Ahmed Maher, who remains in detention. According to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate.

Maher recently began a hunger strike, demanding that his case be presented to court,

In May, two French journalists were forced to flee the Yemeni island of Socotra after being interrogated and placed under house arrest by soldiers and police officers affiliated with the STC.

CPJ emailed the STC for comment but did not receive any response.