Friday, September 25, 2009

Almageleh Abducted after Reporting Attack on Civilians

(IFJ/IFEX) - 24 September 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its support to Yemeni journalists who staged a sit-in at the presidential palace to demand news of the whereabouts and the release of Mohammed al Maqaleh, editor of the opposition Socialist Party's website, Al Eshteraki, who was abducted last Friday and has not been seen since.

"The Government needs to provide information about Almagaleh's location to his family and colleagues," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "There are genuine concerns for his safety while he remains out of official custody."

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, an IFJ affiliate, today organised a sit-in at the presidential palace in Sana'a, almost one week after the journalist was abducted on 18 September on Taiz Street in Sana'a.

His abduction followed the publication last week on his website, al Eshterak, of a report on Yemeni military air strikes targeting civilians in an incident that killed 87 people and injured more than a hundred. The victims were internal war refugees, mostly women and children, sheltering in an open field, having escaped the fighting in Sa'ada City. The military launched a second air strike as the survivors fled to a nearby bridge.

According to witness reports, five gun-wielding masked men in a minibus intercepted Mr. al Maqaleh's car on Taiz Street in Sana'a. They bundled him into another vehicle.

The IFJ says that in the past journalists have disappeared in Yemen after they had been snatched off the streets by plain clothes intelligence operatives driving vehicles with military plates. There are also reports of journalists being tortured while they are held in clandestine locations.

"The Yemeni authorities are solely responsible for the physical safety and security of al Maqaleh," added White.

"There is no suggestion he broke thelaw and he must be released forthwith."

For more information:
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre, Residence Palace
Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 1551040 Brussels
Phone: +32 2 2352207
Fax: +32 2 2352219

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