Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yemen: Two years on, journalist still behind bars after alleging US cluster bomb use

15 August 2012

"The Yemeni authorities must set aside the conviction of a journalist imprisoned after he alleged US involvement in fatal air strikes in the country – including the use of cluster bombs – and release him, Amnesty International said today.

Thursday marks two years since Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’, an investigative journalist specializing in counter-terrorism affairs, was arrested at his home in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, on charges of links to al-Qa’ida. He has been behind bars ever since.

On 18 January 2011, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. On 1 February 2011, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an order to free him, but it was not carried out after US President Barack Obama expressed concern over the journalist’s release.

Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’s lawyers and Yemeni activists say the charges against him were fabricated as a result of his investigative journalism.

“Ever since his arrest and trial, there are strong indications that Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ was targeted for revealing evidence of the US role in a cluster bomb attack that killed dozens of residents,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“Two years on, he remains behind bars. The charges on which he was convicted appear to be based on what he has done as part of his legitimate activities as a journalist. As such his conviction must be set aside and he should be released.”......"

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