BBC Trio Acquitted [Archives:1998/23/Local News]

June 8 1998

The 3-man BBC crew accused of reporting and filming illegally in Mareb were acquitted on Sunday, 7 June, by Judge Haykal Ahmed Othman of the Urgent Affairs Court in Sanaa.
The Prosecutor-General was unable to provide enough evidence to indict Rageh Omaar, Robin Barnwell and Frank Smith of the BBC.
Following three short sessions, Judge Othman gave his verdict of acquittal and ordered “the immediate return of their tapes, passports and equipment”.
“I feel very proud not because I won the case, but because the court ruling is a step forward in the judicial reform program in Yemen,” announced a jubilant Sheikh Tareq Abdullah, the counsel for defense.
Hassan Abu Al-Ula, a BBC reporter currently visiting Yemen, said, “Today’s court ruling is a great victory for press freedom and democracy in Yemen.”
“We are all very happy to be freed by a just court that reflects the independence of the judiciary in this country,” said Rageh Omaar, glad to have his precious BBC equipment back.
The trio plan to fly out immediately after receiving their stuff.