A besieged government and its supporters retaliated fiercely against journalists covering the months of popular protests that sought an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule. Authorities detained local journalists, expelled international reporters, and confiscated newspapers in an effort to silence coverage, while government supporters and plainclothes agents assaulted media workers in the field. Two journalists covering anti-government protests were killed by gunfire, one by security forces who fired live ammunition to disperse a demonstration, the other by a sniper suspected to have been acting on behalf of the government. The government singled out Al-Jazeera in a months-long effort to silence its coverage. In March, plainclothes agents raided the station's Sana'a bureau, confiscating equipment. The raid followed the expulsion of two Al-Jazeera correspondents. Days later, authorities ordered Al-Jazeera's offices shut and its journalists stripped of accreditation. Other newsrooms were under direct fire. Armed men in civilian clothes tried to storm the offices of the independent daily Al-Oula, seriously wounding an editorial trainee, while military forces shelled the Yemeni satellite broadcaster Suhail TV, whose staff endured numerous other threats and detentions. In a rebuke to the regime, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to renowned Yemeni press freedom activist Tawakul Karman, chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, along with two female African leaders.
Jamal al-Sharaabi, a photojournalist for the independent weekly Al-Masdar, was shot by security forces dispersing demonstrations in March. Hassan al-Wadhaf, a cameraman for the Arabic Media Agency, died of injuries sustained when he was shot by a sniper at an anti-government protest in Sana'a.
Several journalists were expelled for their coverage of the popular uprising. CPJ recorded eight expulsions between March 14 and 19, a period of particularly intense public protests:
2 on March 13: Reporter Patrick Symmes and photographer Marco Di Lauro, on assignment
for Outside, a U.S.-based travel and
4 on March 14: Oliver Holmes, a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine; Haley Sweetland Edwards, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times; Joshua Maricish, a photographer; and Portia Walker, a contributor to The Washington Post
2 on March 19: Al-Jazeera correspondents Ahmad Zeidan and Abdel Haq Sadah
In May, security forces seized 12,000 copies of Al-Oula, an independent daily, and burned them at a military checkpoint. Authorities used newspaper seizures as a tactic to silence coverage of anti-government demonstrations.
CPJ recorded numerous assaults against journalists covering anti-government demonstrations. Many journalists also saw their equipment confiscated or destroyed.
Victims were from a variety of outlets:
5: BBC Arabic
4: Al-Oula (local newspaper)
3: Suhail TV (local)
2: Al-Nidaa (local independent weekly)
2: Al-Thawra (state-owned publication)
1: Agence France-Presse
1: Al-Alam TV (Iranian Arabic station)
1: Al-Masdar (local newspaper)
1: The Guardian
1: Qatar TV
1: Al-Sahwa (local news website)
1: Swiss Info
1: European Pressphoto Agency
In October, security forces arrested Abd al-Karim Thail, editor of the news website 3feb, which focused on coverage of the country’s unrest. No charges had been disclosed by late year.Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a frequent Al-Jazeera commentator and critic of the government’s counterterrorist tactics, continued serving a five-year prison term on antistate charges. Antistate charges are commonly used against critical journalists worldwide.
Charges used to imprison journalists worldwide:
79: Antistate charges
65: No charge disclosed
14: Violations of censorship rules
11: Retaliatory charges unrelated to journalism
5: Criminal defamation
3: Engaging in ethnic or religious “insult”
2: Reporting “false” news
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.