Jamal Amer

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Jamal Amer is a journalist from Yemen. He is the editor of the weekly journal Al-Wasat, which he founded in 2004. Al-Wasat frequently publishes reports critical of the government from international human rights organizations.[1]

Background[edit]

Prior to 2004, Amer worked as a journalist for the weekly Al-Wahdawi. His reporting resulted in convictions for "harming the public interest", "offending King Fahd of Saudi Arabia", and "damaging relations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen".[1] In 2000, he was banned by a court from working as a journalist for having "insulted Saudi Arabia".[2]

Abduction[edit]

In 2005, Al-Wasat carried a series of articles criticizing government corruption, including an article on government officials who had sent children to allied countries to study despite a prohibition from President Ali Abdallah Saleh forbidding the arrangement. On 25 August, Amer was abducted outside his home in Sana'a by four men in a vehicle with military license plates.[3] They blindfolded him, drove him into the mountains, beat him, threatened to kill him, and ordered him to stop writing about government officials before releasing him.[1][3] Though Amer filed a complaint, authorities reportedly took no action on the case.[4]

Along with burglaries at the offices of the Associated Press and another newspaper, the incident led to the founding of "a coalition of civil society advocacy of rights and freedoms" led by Yemeni journalists to advocate for their protection and rights.[3] Internationally, the incident was condemned by the Austria-based International Press Institute, which called it "a disturbing picture of the varied methods being used to silence critical voices in the Yemeni press",[5] and by the France-based Reporters Without Borders, which called it "a reminder that it is still very difficult to work as a independent journalist in this country".[4] Amnesty International also issued a statement of concern.[6] The following year, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Amer its International Press Freedom Award, which recognizes journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.[1]

Later work[edit]

Amer continued to edit Al-Wasat. In 2008, the Information Ministry attempted to revoke the paper's license, stating that Al-Wasat "undermined national unity, stirred up religious divisions and damaged relations with neighbouring countries".[7] A court overturned the order, allowing the paper to continue publication.[8]

In 2010, his reporter Anisa Mohammed Ali Othman was sentenced in absentia to a year's imprisonment on a charge of insulting the president after she wrote two articles about political corruption. Amer was fined 10,000 riyals (US$50). He described Othman's prison sentence as "cruel and illegal".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "2006 Awards - Jamal Amer - Yemen". CPJ Awards. Committee to Protect Journalists. 2006. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Three journalists sentenced for harming Yemeni-Saudi relations". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 25 March 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Nabil Sultan (2 September 2005). "Editor abducted; AP, newspaper offices raided". Inter Press Service  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Newspaper editor kidnapped and beaten by gunmen in presidential guard car". Reporters Without Borders. 24 August 2005. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Global press watchdog group condemns harassment of Yemeni journalists". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 28 April 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Yemen: Harassment of journalists must stop" (PDF). Amnesty International. 26 August 2005. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Ban on weekly newspaper criticised". Reporters Without Borders. 10 April 2008. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  8. ^ "Yemeni Court stops government from revoking newspaper's license". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 3 May 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Ahmed Al-Haj (17 January 2010). "Yemen sentences journalist for insulting president". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 17 October 2012.