Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011

Yemen: 2

Abdulelah Hider Shaea, freelance
Imprisoned: August 16, 2010

Shaea, a freelance journalist and a frequent commentator on Al-Jazeera, was sentenced in January 2011 to five years in prison for "belonging to an illegal armed organization" and "recruiting young people, including foreigners, to the organization by communicating with them via the Internet."

In February, after social unrest erupted in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned Shaea among other prisoners, according to local news reports. In a phone call to Saleh, however, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern about Shaea's release, according to a White House statement that did not elaborate on the reasons.

In a 2010 interview with CPJ, Shaea said that government interrogations had focused on his reporting and that agents had directed him to stop working on counterterrorism topics.

Shaea, known for his coverage of extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, was critical of Yemen's counterterrorism policies. Using his tribal affiliation to gain access, he conducted several interviews with senior members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In December 2009, Shaea interviewed the U.S.-born militant Anwar Awlaki for ABC News. Awlaki was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone attack.

Abd al-Karim Thail, 3feb
Imprisoned: October 14, 2011

Security forces arrested Thail, editor-in-chief of the news website 3feb, as he was leaving his Sana'a home, according to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and local news reports. His brother, Bassam, and a friend, Hamir al-Muqbeeli, were detained with him, according to news accounts.

No charges had been disclosed in late year. The journalists syndicate ssaid it formed a committee to monitor the cases of Thail and another detained journalist, Abdulelah Hider Shaea. The website 3feb published news about the country's popular uprising. The site was only sporadically accessible in late year.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.