Press Freedom

10 Yemeni journalists are about to face unconstitutional sentencing at the hands of an extremist Houthi judge

Journalists facing fabricated charges and imminent Houthi sentencing

The Defense Committee of Detainees and Abductees said that the Specialized Criminal Court, which is under Houthi control in the capital Sanaa, has referred the trial file of 10 focrsfully abducted journalists to a fanatical Houthi judge, according to a Facebook post of the chairman of the Committee of the Defense of Detainees, lawyer Abdul Basit Ghazi.

The journalists names are Tawfiq Mansoori, Abdul Khaliq Omran, Hisham Tarmom, Hassan Anab, Hareth Hamid, Salah Alqaedi, Akram Alwalidi, Hisham Al-Yousefi, Haytham Al-Shahab, Essam Balghaith. 

Earlier this year, Houthi authorities began trial proceedings for 10 journalists who were abducted as many as four years ago. Many of these same journalists have undergone torture in secret Houthi prisons.

The specialized criminal court, which is controlled by Houthis in Sana'a, held several hearings to hear the charges against the journalists, with defence lawyers claiming these charges to be malicious and fabricated. 

The group accuses journalists of collaborating with countries of aggression, referring to those participating in the Saudi-led coalition. Additional charges include sharing coordinates of sensitive sites, and publishing anti-Houthi content on social media sites and in newspapers.

Abdul Basit Ghazi said the defense was surprised by the referral of the journalists' file to Judge Mohamed Mufleh, who is known for his absolute and declared allegiance to Houthis.

Ghazi stressed the defense’s objection to this measure and the committee's demand for the immediate release of the journalists due to their poor health conditions and the peril this continued detention and possible sentencing by Houthis puts their lives in. 

He explained that the Criminal Court does not have the right to hear cases attributed to journalists "because there is no specific jurisdiction of the criminal court, and that the press court is the one specialized in such cases."

Judge Mufleh took over the journalists’ case at their first hearing.  Now, legal activists have said that his return to the case may be a move by the Houthis to issue unfair sentences against civilian abductees and journalists, whom are supposed to have special protection in accordance with the constitutional guarantees of press freedom.

The 10 journalists slated for this hearing live in tragic conditions in Sanaa's political security prison, where the Houthisprevent them from being visited, do not provide them with medical attention and subjected them to constant torture, according to human rights and international reports.

Local and international organizations have appealed to the United Nations and the Special Envoy for urgent intervention to save the journalists' lives as their health deteriorates by the day. Most of them suffering from skin diseases and malnutrition, and some have lost mobility and hearing capacity as a result of the ongoing brutal torture they are being subjected to.


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