When the Freedom of Press is Narrowed by the State Anger among journalists [Archives:1999/32/Front Page]

August 9 1999

Aden: Last Wednesday signaled itself as a dark day for the world of journalism. It is when a new dimension, a far-reaching and dangerous one was witnessed. A verdict was issued by the Sayra Preliminary Court in Aden headed by Judge Muhsin Alwan against the chief editor of a well known independent tri-weekly newspaper, Al-Ayyam. This action is quite new because it is the first time that such an active well-known prestigious journalist has been submitted a suspended jail sentence by the prosecution. The attorney claims that the reason behind this sentence is the publishing of an article that was “against the country’s national unity.” While the writer of the article, Ali Haitham Al-Ghareeb was given a suspended 10 months sentence, the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Hisham Basharaheel was sentenced to a suspended 6 months imprisonment period. The newspaper was fined only YR10,000. 
The article that made the authorities wage war against the newspaper had requested the government to give the Yemeni provinces wider powers and that elections of top officials be from the regions. “The article was perceived to have stirred up secrtarian and tribal sentiments which threatened to tear apart national unity” Basharaheel stated. 
In conclusion, this action is considered by journalists and media representatives to be a threatening act that could turn journalists to enemies of the state, instead of helping the democratic action prosper and widen as we approach the first ever presidential elections. As the Yemen Times, we hope that the sentence be cancelled, for it will not in any way serve the democratization process in the country whose authorities have claimed it is giving the freedom of press its deserved importance in the democratization process.