New publication closed, established one suspendedMore press under fire [Archives:2004/784/Front Page]

October 25 2004

The Ministry of Information has closed operations of a new magazine, “al-Neda,” which printed its first issue Oct. 13, and, in a separate move, suspended al-Hurriye newspaper.
The ministry has withdrawn all the copies of the first issue of al-Neda from different bookshops for passing the legal period of issuance (6 months) by two days and has cancelled the license of al-Hurriye for an alleged change in the newspaper's logo.
The Editor-in-chief of “al-Neda,” Sami Ghaleb said the closure reflects a major aggression, whereas there are some other magazines issued irregularly but are never closed down.
He confirmed that his magazine, which had not seen the light except for one week, did not violate any press laws or ethics. He also said that democracy gives him the right to print the magazine.
Observers and politicians confirmed that the newspaper exceeded its authorization period by two days, but this is not a standard measure applied on most Yemeni newspapers.
The magazine may have been targeted if some journalists wrote topics not favoured by the government. The first issue of “al-Neda” had several topics such as: conflicts among wings within the ruling party (the General People's Congress), campaign collecting of international signatures for Mr. Alkhaiwani, greetings to Judge Muhammad Luqman by the Socialist writer Omer Muhammad al-Muqaleh, disaster of parties transfer in Yemen by the Journalist Nabeel al-Soufi, plus sports and cultural events and a number of other topics.
Meanwhile, Mr. Akram Abdulkareem Sabra, the Acting Editor of al-Hurriye newspaper also expressed outrage at the decision to withdraw his newspaper's license and instruct the printing press that prints his paper not to print it.
“I could not have imagined that because of a minor change in my newspaper's logos, we would have our newspaper suspended. This is simply out of proportions!” he told Yemen Times.
“We are not a newspaper that has just been founded yesterday. In fact, our newspaper was supposed to celebrate its 25th anniversary soon, and the timing of this governmental measure has indeed sabotaged our plans,” he complained.
This comes in a time when press freedom in Yemen has been steadily monitored locally and internationally, as several incidents have caused concern about the freedom of press in Yemen, especially as the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Shoura opposition newspaper is still in custody.
Human rights activists in Yemen are upset due to the successive measures taken against non-governmental newspapers, fearing that this could signal a tendency to retreat from promises made by the regime to enhance democracy and allow more liberties, specifically in regards to freedom of expression.