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Journalists Convicted on Dubious Terrorism Charges

A criminal court headed by the judge Rudwa al-Namer issued a five year prison sentence against the journalist Abdul Elah Haider Shae’a of al-Jazeerah Net last Wednesday, and two years for the caricature artist Abdul Kareem al-Shami.

The prosecution had accused them of forming an armed gang affiliated with al-Qaeda. Shae’a was accused of contacting individuals outside Yemen and facilitating their entry into the country to join al-Qaeda.  In addition, he was charged with supplying al-Qaeda information and photos of security sites, official buildings, and foreign embassies, as well as with providing advice and guidance for the terrorist group.

They were also accused of contacting Anwar al-Awlaqi in order to recruit people, among them foreigners, to join al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula via the internet.  They were also accused of photographing embassies’ and military headquarters in order to supposedly facilitate al-Qaeda attacks.

The verdict for Shae’a and al-Shami declared by the judge accused them of providing media support for al-Qaeda elements by disseminating propaganda and helping issue the notorious Sada al-Malahem magazine, the terrorist group’s monthly publication.

The judge continued, stating that Shae’a had worked as a media consultant for Anwar al-Awlaqi.  The court mandated that Shae’a be held under house arrest for two years, as the second part of his sentence. Also, it was ordered that he must be under strict surveillance by the security apparatus and prevented from travelling outside Yemen.

In the meantime, Shae’a rejected to appeal the judgment. He described it as unfair and issued by an illegal court. He condemned accusing any journalist of terrorism, which he called an abuse of the law.  The case file still has yet to be formally submitted and the precise charges against the men have never been formally publicized.

Abdul Elah Shae’a and Abdul Kareem al-Shami were arrested last year by the security forces, yet there whereabouts remained unknown for months – a fact which led the men to call their detention a “kidnapping.”