YT Journalist detained over photos [Archives:2007/1040/Local News]

April 9 2007

SANA'A, April 8 ) A Yemen Times Journalist was detained for over two hours in the construction site at the bridge linking between the 60 Meter Street and Hadda Street. The Journalist went to the site in order to take photos of a small collapse on one of the sides of the construction site. The journalist walked into the construction site through the entrance of the constructions site without being stopped, and walked a distance of over 200 meters, took a few photos and started walking out of the site.

While leaving, the journalist spoke to a Chinese engineer asking him about the collapse, only to be asked by the engineer not to publish a news story about the collapse and delete the pictures taken, the Yemen Times Journalist agreed to cooperate with the engineer and promised not to publish any of the taken photos. However, the journalist was stopped again by some of the guards of the construction site, and he was verbally abused and ordered to surrender his camera. The Journalist was then insulted further by Ali Shaiban, who works as a guard at the constructions site. Shaiban threatened to punish the journalist for his entry into the site; he said that he was following instructions as given to him by the Chinese engineer.

The Journalist tried to convince the Chinese engineer that the constructions site is a civil project and not a banned area, and that his entry wasn't obstructed by a guard, and no sign was there indicating photography is prohibited. He further promised that he will not publish the story but the engineer ordered the guards to seize the journalist and the camera in an insulting manner. “I refused to delete the photos because I refused to accept the despicable treatment of the engineer and the guards, but maybe the Chinese engineer is excused to behave this way because his culture and the company's administration created a sense of horror among its employees during the presence of the reporter” the journalist said; “I don't know why they feared me although it is normal to take photos which may be documented on behalf of the company in case it is held accountable for delaying progress of the project.”

The Journalist contacted Yemen Times headquarters who in turn contacted the police in order to go to the constructions site to investigate the threats to the journalist and bring him out of the site, however, although the police stated that they would send a police vehicle to the site, and confirmed that a crime has been reported.

The Journalist was detained for two hours until Yemen Times management mediated and called on other guards to interfere, indicating that unless the Journalist was freed immediately the news paper would press charges against the Chinese constructions company operating at the site for the illegal detention of the Journalist.

The damage in the construction work was caused by heavy rains in Sana'a due to lack of water courses in that area to divert rains away from the constructions site. The heavy rains damaged some soil barriers in the bridge project which in turn skewed the iron bars holding one of the sides of the fly-under which is being constructed.