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Amnesty decries 'shocking' detention of 10 journalists by Yemen's Houthi rebels

These men are being punished for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 May, 2019

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Human rights group Amnesty International has criticized the lengthy detention of 10 journalists by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Amnesty International on Wednesday criticized the lengthy detention of 10 journalists at the hands of Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The human rights organisation said their detention reflected "the dire state of media freedom" in the war-ridden country.

The 10 journalists have been held since the summer of 2015 and are being prosecuted on alleged spying charges, described as "trumped-up" by the rights group.

The group said in a press release that the media workers have been tortured, held in solitary confinement and deprived of medical care.

"The unlawful and prolonged detention, torture and other ill-treatment of these 10 journalists is a shocking reminder of the repressive media climate facing journalists in Yemen and illustrates the risks they face at the hands of all parties to the conflict," said Rasha Mohamed, Amnesty's Yemen researcher.

"These men are being punished for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

"The de facto Houthi authorities should release them immediately and drop all the charges against them," the researcher said in a statement.

The journalists were charged in December 2018 with a series of offences, including spying and cooperating with the Saudi-led coalition backing the government.

According to the rights organisation, some of the journalists – whose trials are not clear when they would start – worked for online media outlets affiliated with Al-Islah, an Islamist party that opposes the Houthi rebels.

The Houthi rebels are fighting a government backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

The alliance launched its first raids on rebel strongholds in March 2015 in a bid to support President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was ousted and now lives in Saudi Arabia.

Since then the conflict has killed some 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation, but NGOs estimate the actual death toll could be several times higher.

The unrest annihilated the economy of the poorest Arab country and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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