Yemen - Journalist faces possible death penalty over photos "liable to undermine army morale"



    MONTREAL, Nov. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today urged the
authorities to stop the prosecution of Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, a freelance
journalist and former editor of the now closed weekly Al-Shoura, on a charge
of "publishing information liable to undermine army morale" under article 126
of the criminal code, for which the maximum penalty is death.
    "Khaiwani is critical of the government headed by President Ali Abdallah
Saleh but that does not make him a rebel," the press freedom organisation
said. "We remind the authorities that journalists are, by definition, neutral
observers and as such they should not be prosecuted for what they report."
    Khaiwani has worked for several publications since his weekly was closed
in 2005. He was arrested in June after the publication of photos he had taken
showing abuses committed by the army in its attempts to combat a Shiite
rebellion in the north. During initial interrogation, he was accused of
"terrorist activity" because of his alleged links with the rebels. He was
released provisionally after a month on health grounds.
    The charges against him were examined by a state security court on
21 October and again on 31 October, when his lawyers challenged the legality
of the prosecution and the competence of the state security court to hear the
case. The presiding judge ordered an adjournment to allow the court to
consider the defence's request. The next hearing is set for 11 November.
    Khaiwani told Reporters Without Borders he was the victim of a "political
machination" and said the judge who had been in charge of his case had been
replaced by judge Mohsen Alwan, who was "known for his hostility towards
journalists and for his links to the political and military authorities."
    Yemen was ranked 143rd out of 169 countries in the world press freedom
index issued last month by Reporters Without Borders.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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