Amid outrage of the journalist community in Yemen:Thabet sentenced to ‘death’ in profession [Archives:2004/729/Front Page]

April 15 2004

By Yemen Times Staff
In an unprecedented development that upset the press community in Yemen, the Western Court of Sana'a has issued a sentence last Tuesday banning journalist Saeed Thabet, the correspondent of Quds Press Agency, from working for six months and a fine of YR 5,000 (approx. $45). “For me, the verdict is the equivalent of a death sentence.” Saeed Thabet said when commenting on the verdict.
According to the court, the crime of Saeed Thabet was in publishing a news report about an alleged attempted assassination against President Saleh's son, Ahmed.
The sentence comes more than a month since Saeed was arrested on March 5 by the Political Security Organization (PSO) in what was seen as an illegal act against the freedom of the press, especially as the PSO carried out its action without any prior legal or lawful procedures.

YJS denounces verdict
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) on its part denounced the verdict in a press statement, in which it emphasized that banning a journalist from writing is just as damaging as imprisonment. The YJS also said that the verdict contradicted the initial findings and facts provided for the court in its previous sessions and also contradicted the basic rights of the freedom of the press guaranteed in the constitution.
The YJS, which held an extraordinary meeting upon the issuing of the sentence, expressed its disappointment at the verdict and pledged to support Saeed Thabet as he appeals the verdict at the Appeal and Supreme Courts.
“Just as the YJS sees that the first instance verdict against Saeed Thabet did not only dismiss his rights when arrested by the PSO and General Attorney, but also dismissed all his guaranteed assurances for working as a journalist because the court assumed that any false information published in a media enterprise requires the punishment of its correspondent regardless of whether he was the source of it or not.”

Saeed disappointed at justice system
Meanwhile, Saeed Thabet expressed his deep disappointment at the verdict issued against him, considering it in total contradiction to facts obtained from earlier sessions. He said that the judicial system has not lived up to his expectations in terms of independence and honesty.
On the other hand, lawyer Mohammed Naji Allaw, the head of the National Organization for Defending Rights and Liberties, also supported this opinion and said that the Yemeni justice system is well connected with the executive authority and follows it due to the fact that the President of the Republic is the Chairman of the Supreme Court Council and the chairman of the ruling party as well. “In this case, it is quite normal to see that the judicial system will follow the government in everything it says.” he said.