UNCHAIN THE PRESS [Archives:2001/23/Front Page]

June 4 2001
Two chief editors of independent newspapers and a number of journalists on Saturday expressed their denunciation of a court decision suspending the Al-Shomou weekly for one month, imposing a fine of one million rials on the chief editor as well as sentencing him to six months imprisonment, in addition to paying attorney fees. This is in the context of the lawsuit against the newspaper filed by the Ministry of Education against the reports of embezzlement and corruption by the former Education Minister Yahya Al-Shuaibi and his deputy Abdulmalik Al-Maalami, published in the newspaper. 
Editors-in-Chief of Al-Shomou and 7 July, Saif Al-Hadhiri and Salah Al-Jalal and a number of journalists on Saturday staged a sit-in at Dr Al-Saqqaf Hall in the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, putting shackles on their hands in protest against the sentences which they said were unjust and illegal. 
The strikers issued a press statement earlier to newspaper chief editors and international organizations saying “We have decided to chain ourselves inside the Journalists Syndicate headquarters and hand keys of chains locks to Mr Mahboub Ali, Chairman of the Yemeni journalists Syndicate.” They added that their stand came in protest against the harassment which the democratic margin and freedom of press were subjected to. These infringements are clear by the recent measures, particularly sentences of imprisonment and detention against some colleagues. 
The court initially gave a verdict imposing a fine of one million rials on Al-Hadhiri. But the two parties challenged the verdict and took the case to the Court of Appeals. This court subsequently added the prison sentence and suspended the newspaper in addition to the previous verdict of the fine. 
The Chairman of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate Mahboub Ali told Yemen Times that the Syndicate cannot invalidate a judiciary verdict but sent a letter to the Attorney General, on Sunday, demanding the Al-Shomou appeal to be accepted according to the law. 
A file of documents the paper says it possesses will be submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration during the appeal process.