Aden newspaper editor threatened

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) in Aden has condemned the harassment of Aiman Mohammed Nasser, the editor-in-chief of Al-Tariq, a bi-weekly newspaper published in Aden.
Yemen Aiman Mohammed Nasser
Aiman Mohammed Nasser, the editor-in-chief of Al-Tariq, a bi-weekly newspaper published in Aden. © Yemen Times

ADEN, Aug, 10, 2009 (YEMEN TIMES) — The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) in Aden has condemned the harassment of Aiman Mohammed Nasser, the editor-in-chief of Al-Tariq, a bi-weekly newspaper published in Aden.

The syndicate received a complaint from the editor-in-chief saying that he had received threats and was illegally summoned to court, said the syndicate in a statement.

“Administrative Staff of Aden YJS Branch declares its strong solidarity with Nasser and denounce all those illegal practices, threats and intimidations practiced against the editor with the intention of shutting up the media in Aden," it said.

"This came just a few days after daily newspaper Al-Ayyam was closed down,” it said.

In the beginning of May, the Ministry of the Information suspended the publication of Al-Ayyam, Al-Nida, Al-Masdar, Al-Watani, Al-Diyar, Al-Share', Al-Ahali and Al-Mustaqilla, following their coverage of the unrest at the southern governorates.

The papers were accused of harming national unity. Although some of these newspapers were allowed to re-publish, security forces prevented sales of Al-Ayyam.

Nasser said he was threatened and harassed because of conducting media coverage on what happened in the southern governorates over the past few months.

“The newspaper faced threats after it published photos of those killed in protests that took place in the southern governorates over the past months,” he noted, adding that the government wanted to control the media in the southern governorates.

The newspaper, issued twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays has distributed nearly 30,000 copies, covering the deaths of demonstrators in the recent protests.

“It is our honor to support the oppressed,” Nasser said, saying that his paper will continue to cover all events taking place on the ground despite threats and official fools.

Nasser has been summoned by police many times over his newspaper coverage.

In May the government decided to establish a special court to deal exclusively with press-related offenses following the media coverage of the unrest in the south of Yemen.

The Minister of Information supported the establishing of the court calling for "supporting national unity and rejecting any mean calls for separation and root hatred."

“Some influential government officials are responsible for the spread of hatred among people of Yemen,” Nasser commented, denying allegations that his paper sparks hatred.

Summoned to court

The newspaper is currently facing charges of harming the national unity in two separate cases, the most recent of which was filed by a military court judge demanding the newspaper be closed down.

Nasser labeled the lawsuit as fabricated since it was filed by the same judge, who issued an unjust ruling against members of the Southern Movement. The judge was unavailable to comment.

Nasser expressed concern over any procedures that may be taken by the Sana’a-based Press and Publications Court against him.

“I have no doubt in the integrity of the judiciary, but the currently worsening situation as a result of events in the southern governorates has made me concerned about my personal safety," Nasser said. “Any trial may cost me a lot.”

US support

Officials from the United States Embassy in Sana’a recently visited the staff of Al-Ayyam and Al-Tariq newspapers in Aden.

During the meetings, the American officials reiterated the support of the United States government for "the role of independent and responsible media in Yemen."

They also expressed concern regarding measures taken recently by the Government of Yemen to impede the operations of several newspapers.

"Responsible and independent media perform an essential function in a democratic society by providing timely information and analysis of events that affect the lives of its citizens," said a press release from the US embassy in Yemen.

"The obstruction of press freedom and imprisonment of journalists deprive people of this fundamental right and undermine a core principle of democracy," it said.

The Aden YJS Branch, Arab Journalists Union and International Federation of Journalists expressed solidarity with Nasser.

They demanded security authorities in Aden provide adequate protection to the editor-in-chief, his family and all members of staff at the newspaper, and urged civil society organizations and human rights groups to stand in solidarity with Nasser.