Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Yemen raids two media outlets owned by ex-president

17 June 2014

Yemeni security forces raided a television station and a newspaper owned by the country’s former president amidst unrest following water, electric and utility shortages in the capital Sana’a.

Yemen Al-Youm TV and Yemen Al-Youm newspaper were closed by members of the presidential guard June 11 amid accusations that they were trying to undermine the current government, according to France-based Reporters Without Borders. Both outlets are owned by former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 after 33 years in power amidst public demonstrations.

"The Presidential Guard has stormed the headquarters of the channel by force of arms, aimed the weapons at the faces of journalists and staff and confiscated the transmitter and all media equipment, cameras, servers, hard drives, media archives, computers and personal staff laptops," Mohammed Al-Omaisi, the director general of Yemen Al-Youm TV, was quoted as saying in a report to Freedom Foundation.

The raids on Saleh-owned media outlets came as hundreds of demonstrators marched in Sana’a to protest electricity and water shortages under the government of Saleh’s successor, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Hadi’s government has accused Saleh loyalists of attacking power lines as a means of stirring unrest, the Associated Press said.

“Al-Yemen Al-Youm incited hatred and violence and jeopardized social peace, thereby constituting a threat to the state’s security and stability,” government newspaper Al-Thawra (The Revolution) said in a statement to Reporters Without Borders. “The communication ministry never issued a license to Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV and the station’s management never bothered to request once. And they continued to behave in the same way after the former president’s removal.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, security forces have repeatedly attacked and threatened journalists covering recent protests. On June 7, riot police used teargas and live rounds to disperse journalists outside a state-owned printing press. Journalists had gathered outside the press in protest of the manager’s alleged corruption. The head of the Journalists’ Union in Aden told Reporters Without Borders that 15 journalists and 20 printing press employees were beaten and threatened at gunpoint by riot police before being forced to leave. One journalist, Hani Al-Mohtadi, was detained for an hour.

Yemen is the poorest country of the Arabian Peninsula and faces separatist unrest in the south and Shiite anti-government rebels in the north.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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