Political Analysis

Fears Grow for the 16th Journalist Abducted in Yemen this Year

Written by Staff

Former website editor was taken from his home a month ago by Houthi militia

The result of the continuing war between Houthi and pro-government fighters in the Yemeni city of Taiz.
The result of the continuing war between Houthi and pro-government fighters in the Yemeni city of Taiz.
Photograph: Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

A journalist was abducted in Yemen more than a month ago and has not been heard of since, according to reports carried by the website, al-Masdar online, which he used to edit.

A militia group arrived at the home of Yousuf Ajlan in the capital Sana’a on 15 October and took him away. His family fear for his safety.

He is thought to be held by representatives of the Houthi, the pro-Iranian Shia-led movement that controls most of northern Yemen and is engaged in a bitter struggle with pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia.

Ajlan, who has covered abuses by security forces, drone strikes and Yemeni Guantanamo detainees, was briefly abducted in 2015, say his concerned colleagues. He had not worked since for the website.

He had reported extensively on the case of Sharif Mobley, a father of three from the US who was abducted in Yemen in 2010 and vanished into secret detention in 2014.

Ajlan’s disappearance brings the number of journalists abducted in Yemen to 16 this year, according to the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate.

The crackdown on press freedom takes place amid rare signs of a peace deal being brokered by US secretary of state John Kerry.

Reprieve, the international human rights organisation, has been assisting Mobley’s family and is now in contact with Ajlan’s family.

One of its team, Katie Taylor, spoke of the deep concern at Ajlan’s capture. She said: “We urge all parties in Yemen to respect press freedoms and for those holding Yousuf to release him immediately without harm.

“Reporters should be able to cover abuses like torture, the death penalty and drone strikes without being targeted for retribution.”

His former employers, the Al-Masdar Media Foundation, also condemned the abduction. It has called on the Houthi authorities in Sana’a to release Ajlan.

Al-Masdar’s journalism director, Taoufik Al Mansouri, has been held by the Houthis for 18 months.

Sources: Reprieve/Al-Masdar

Original Article