Yemen: Editor sentenced to six years

***UPDATE: English PEN welcomes the release of editor Abdel Karim Al-Khaiwani, after being granted a presidential pardon on 25 September 2008. It is believed that international pressure contributed to his release. English PEN would like to thank all those who sent appeals on his behalf. ***


English PEN is seriously concerned about the six-year prison sentence handed down to editor Abdel Karim Al-Khaiwani on terrorism charges that are apparently unfounded and widely believed to be politically motivated.


According to our information, Abdel Karim Al-Khaiwani, former editor of the online opposition publication Al-Shoura, was sentenced to six years in prison on 9 June 2008 by the Yemeni State Security Court for alleged links to a militant opposition group ‘Houthis’. It is widely believed, however, that he is targeted for his journalistic activities. Al-Khaiwani has been under threat since 20 June 2007, when his home was raided and he was arrested for his alleged links with the rebels fighting government forces in the city of Saada, north west of the country. He was released on bail in late July. No evidence has been provided to substantiate the charges and the trial has reportedly not been conducted in accordance with international standards of fairness. Al-Khaiwani has been subject to continued harassment since the charges were brought on 4 July 2007; his website has been blocked a number of times and both he and his family have been threatened in connection with his critical articles. To read a CPJ alert on the case, please click here.


He was taken straight to prison after sentencing, and there are fears for his well-being.


Al-Khaiwani has been a critic of the Yemeni government for several years, and is particularly known for his writings against the government’s fight with rebels in Saada. In 2004, as editor of the then-print weekly Al-Shoura, al-Khaiwani was sentenced to a year in jail for incitement, insulting the president, publishing false news, and causing tribal and sectarian discrimination through his published criticisms of the government’s conduct in the fighting.


English PEN calls for Al-Khaiwan’s immediate and unconditional release if detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a signatory, and seeks urgent assurances that he is being treated humanely in prison


Please send appeals:

• Expressing serious concern at the harsh sentence handed down to Abdel Karim Al-Khaiweni, apparently for his critical writings;
• Calling on the authorities to release Al-Khaiwani immediately and unconditionally if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a signatory.


Appeals to:

His Excellency General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh
Office of the President
Republic of Yemen

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Yemen in your country if possible:


HE Mohamed Taha Mustafa
The Yemen Embassy
57 Cromwell Road


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