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Journalist forcibly detained in Yemen twice this summer

Yemeni rebels: Tribal leaders and Shiite Muslim Zaidi rebels in northern Yemen, also known as Huthis, gather in Harf Sufyan, in northern Amran province, some 120 kms from the capital Sanaa on July 25, 2010. Tribal mediators succeeded July 24 in reaching a ceasefire between Yemen's northern Shiite rebels and an army-backed tribe after days of fighting that killed at least 70 people, a tribal chief said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Yemeni authorities to release Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a Yemeni journalist who covers Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda. Armed security forces arrested Shaea on Monday after raiding his family home, according to news reports. Shaea is a reporter for the official Saba News Agency and a frequent commentator and contributor to Al-Jazeera. He is known for his exclusive interviews with Al-Qaeda leaders and his analysis on Islamist groups.

When Shaea was arrested at his house, "most of the soldiers stayed outside," but "around 15-20 soldiers stormed the house," his brother Khaled, who was present, told Al-Masdar Online, the Web-based edition of the popular independent weekly Al-Masdar. According to his brother, the journalist asked the soldiers to show a court order for his arrest. He said they replied that they were "following the orders of national security apparatus," and that they said they had an order but did not show it.

His bother added that Shaea was taken by force. After the arrest, officers searched the house and confiscated his notes and laptop. The Yemen Journalists' Syndicate condemned the arrest in a statement released today.

"We call on the authorities to immediately release Abdulelah Hider Shaea," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator. "The Yemeni government is acting without regard for the law. This is a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of due process. It a state kidnapping."

This is the second time Shaea has been detained forcibly this summer. On July 11, he was abducted by unidentified men. After being blindfolded and led to a basement in an unknown location, he was interrogated for several hours about his friends and his reporting on Al-Qaeda, Shaea told CPJ just hours after his release.

Only days before his first abduction, Shaea told CPJ: "In Yemen, you conceal your identity as a journalist. Your journalism ID is a liability, not an asset. It turns you into a target." After his release, Shaea was not able to identify the specific agency that had abducted him, but said that the abductors referred to themselves simply as "security." He told Al-Masdar Online later in July that he was receiving threats via phone from security officers demanding that he stops contributing to media outlets without consulting them because "it harms the reputation of the country."

Date posted: August 19, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 168