Security arrests popular artist, opposition member [Archives:2006/955/Local News]

June 15 2006

SANA'A, June 14 ) Reports mention that popular artist and member of the opposition Islah party, Mohammed Al-Athraie, was arrested last Tuesday by Political Security members while returning from participating in a Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) festival in the capital city's eighth constituency.

Sources close to Al-Athraie reported that an armed group identifying itself as being from the political security apparatus led him to a white car bearing a temporary customs permission plate. quoted sources as saying that the group threatened Al-Athraie and his colleagues with weapons when they inquired about the arrest warrant.

An official JMP source demanded the artist's immediate release and punishment of those who arrested him. He condemned the incident, holding security authorities responsible for Al-Athraie's safety.

Al-Athraie has many recorded artistic and theatrical works containing sharp criticism of aspects of government corruption. His works are met with popular applause, which was the reason for his arrest according to the opposition.

According to the same source, Al-Athraie's wife clarified in a telephone conversation that he participated in a festival in Ibb governorate on Tuesday, arriving home in Sana'a at 9 p.m., and then went to the Rabat Club in Sana'a to participate in the JMP party.

She noted that she didn't know who had kidnapped Al-Athraie or where and demanded the interior minister disclose the kidnappers' identities and punish them.

She said her husband didn't do anything wrong and that he's not a killer or a criminal; rather, he's simply exercising his constitutional right and contributing to fighting corruption and enlightening the public about its dangers, which is in line with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's directives.