Story of the President’s Journalist Friend BACKSLIDING! [Archives:1998/44/Front Page]

November 2 1998

Foreign friends of Yemen worry about what is now commonly referred to as “Yemen’s backsliding from democracy”. In spite of repeated assurances, the authorities not only resist going forward, they show strong inclinations and even made attempts to go back to the old ways. That is why the regime is beginning to lose credibility. That is also why it is losing friends worldwide. The country’s deteriorating image is another tangible evidence of a growing problem. A third evidence is the worsening human rights record. 
The backsliding of Yemen’s leadership from its commitment to democracy is also behind losing friends here in Yemen. In the media for example, even those seen as the president’s supporters, now speak of a credibility gap. They discover they can’t remain professional in their work and remain friends of the regime. 
The 21st of October offered yet another example. 
Representatives of Jezirah Television Channel of Qatar – known as friends of the regime because of their sympathetic reporting, were detained. 
Mr. Anwar Al-Ansi and his team had just shot footage covering the trial of the people accused of the Aden bombings. 
He had the judge’s and the governor’s permission. 
“About 30 soldiers swarmed into the Seera Court entrance and arrested me. They took me to Brigadier-General Mohammed Turaiq, Aden’s Director-General of Security. I was forced to spend the afternoon in his custody,” explained Anwar. “I told him that there was no legal basis for my arrest. I told him I was close to the president. But to no avail.” 
Mr. Al-Ansi then called up the president. After his conversation, the president asked him to brief him on the footage. Then he instructed the journalist to change his report here and there. Anwar AGREED. 
The president then said the problem was over. Even then, however, the team was delayed long enough to miss transmitting the story. 
President Saleh a few days later tried to convince Anwar he was on his side. He cursed the Aden security director and blamed gross misinterpretations of his instructions. 
Anwar told Yemen Times, “Nobody has the right to block the work of a journalist except by a court decision.”