Monday, 6 September 2010

Two Yemeni journalists being held incommunicado: lawyer

Source: AFP , 06/09/2010

DUBAI — Two Yemeni journalists are being held incommunicado without charge more than 20 days after their arrest in Sanaa, a lawyer and rights activist said on Sunday.

Abdulelah Shaea, considered to be an expert on Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and cartoonist Kamal Sharaf "are still held by the national security in Sanaa," lawyer Mohammed Naji Allaw who heads rights group Hood told AFP by telephone.

"This is considered a crime of incarceration," he said, insisting that the pair's detention was "in breach of laws and constitution" because they are being held "incommunicado, without access to lawyers or any help."

Shaea and Sharaf were arrested on August 16 and 17 respectively.

Sharaf has reportedly published a cartoon showing Al-Qaeda militants lining up to be paid by the authorities.

Allaw said the Yemeni constitution stipulates that people can be held for a maximum of 24 hours only before being referred for prosecution, while families of the detained should be told upon their arrest, and a lawyer should attend their questioning.

A team of lawyers was ready to defend the duo, he said, but has to wait until the defendants are referred to the prosecution service.

"The National Security (agency) had said that the case has been referred to the prosecution that specialises in terrorism case. But after checking, we found out that this has not happened," Allaw said.

He said that there no information on why the two were arrested or the charges they could face.

Reports without Borders (RSF) on Saturday the arrests and urged President Ali Abdullah Saleh to have them released.

"It is unacceptable that the authorities have said nothing about the fate of these two journalists, who were arrested by the security forces," the Paris-based media watchdog said in a statement.

"International law regards holding detainees incommunicado as forced disappearance."

In May, RSF named Saleh on its list of 40 "Predators of Press Freedom."

Shaea is known for his close ties to radical US-Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaqi, who is wanted by Washington in connection with a failed attack on a US airliner last Christmas.

In July, Shaea accused security forces of kidnapping him for several hours and beating him while questioning him about statements he had made "to several newspapers, TV channels and international news agencies regarding Al-Qaeda."

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