Al-Shar’a newspaper under prosecution by state security [Archives:2007/1069/Local News]

July 19 2007

By: Amel Al-Ariqi
SANA'A, July 17 ) The Human Rights and Freedoms Organization, known as HOOD, along with the journalists' syndicate considered refereeing a complaint made by the Ministry of Defense against Al-Shar'a Newspaper, deeming the prosecution of the newspaper by state security as an unlawful measure. In a statement released yesterday, HOOD stated that investigation of publication crimes must be held within the prosecution of press and printings.

The HOOD statement demanded the general prosecutor for the state to halt their investigation and refer the case to the proper authorities. The statement refused to refer the issue, under any circumstance, to state prosecution.

However, the journalists' syndicate stated, “Referring the complaint to the specialized penal prosecution is a dangerous precedent that harms not only the legal center of the associates at Al-Shar'a Newspaper but also exceeds the constitutional and legal pillars, building press since the establishment of the unification country.”

The syndicate also stated that these arbitration measures lead to abolishing the constitutional and legal protection for freedom of press and right of expression.

Jamal Al-Ja'bi, Al-Shar'a Newspaper lawyer, affirmed that the head of prosecution for state security, Judge Sa'eed Al-A'jel directed a group of his escorts to remove Al-Ja'bi from the investigation room during proceedings. Al-Ja'bi added, “My dismissal by the head of the state prosecution occurred after my objection to the description used by head of the state prosecution, as I requested him to change the word 'suspect' into 'defendant' when referring to the editor-in-chief.” This was a premature indictment by the head of the prosecution, he added.

Al-Ja'bi presented a press release to the chief of the journalists syndicate in Sana'a. The release was related to his dismissal from the investigation room during case proceedings.

The attorney general, who met a group of journalists along with Al-Shar'a Newspaper personnel on Saturday, listened to the complaint of the newspaper. The attorney general claimed that the current prosecution of the newspaper by state authorities is in line with the demand of “making sure of legal specialization.” In light of the attorney general's statement, Judge Sa'eed Al-A'jel resumed the investigation of Al-Shar'a Newspaper without the newspaper's lawyer present.

The state prosecution focused on terrorism issues, directing a lawsuit against the editor-in-chief of Al-Shar'a Independent Newspaper, which published its first issue last June. Supporting evidence presented included the newspaper's publishing of a file on events taking place in Sa'ada, including field information about the tribal gunmen in favor of government. This file was controversial because it directed criticism against the state for having hands of tribesmen in the Sa'ada war. The publication of this file led the Ministry of Defense to accuse Al-Shar'a Newspaper of attempting to shake security of the state, in addition to affecting state troop morale and revealing information about the field operations without prior permission.

The state security prosecution requested next Saturday as the hearing session for Nayf Hassan, editor-in-chief of Al-Shar'a Newspaper, and Nabeel Subai', managing editor of Al-Shar'a. The session was postponed until next Wednesday upon the request of Nayf Hassan, due to the dismissal of his lawyer.