Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Yemen to release staff members of banned daily

Source: AFP 21/04/2010

SANAA — Yemeni authorities have reached agreement with management of the banned Al-Ayyam daily to free three detained staff members, the newspaper's director told AFP on Wednesday.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh met with Al-Ayyam staff members Tuesday and promised to ensure the trio would be freed, said the director, Bashraheel Hisham Bashraheel.

He named the three as Hani Hisham Bashraheel, Mohammed Hisham Bashraheel and Arhab Hassan Yassin.

The president "has given orders to Aden's security director ... to release Hani, Mohammed, and Arhab. We are still waiting for orders from the attorney general to release our three colleagues," he said.

In return, the newspaper is obliged to respect the country's law and constitution, Bashraheel said, without revealing the terms of the agreement.

"There is an agreement which we cannot disclose at the moment until the release of our three colleagues," he said.

The 66-year-old director was arrested on January 6 along with two of his sons following clashes in Aden in which a policeman and a guard were killed and seven people were wounded.

He was released after three months in custody, but his sons remained in detention.

Police had laid siege to the offices of the newspaper, which was accused of sympathising with southern separatists.

The siege was lifted after 30 protesters and 20 guards who were holed up in the premises surrendered to authorities following negotiations.

Al-Ayyam, one of the largest dailies in the south, was one of eight publications closed in May last year over allegations that it incited separatism in the region amid deadly unrest there.

South Yemen was independent from the time of the British withdrawal in 1967 until 1990, when it united with the north. It seceded in 1994, sparking a short-lived civil war that ended with the area overrun by northern troops.

Residents of south Yemen who complain of discrimination and a lack of financial aid hold frequent protests to demand either increased autonomy or independence from the north

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