Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Yemeni journalist sentenced to five years for supporting al-Qa'ida

A Yemeni journalist and Al-Qa'ida expert, with ties to the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, has been sentenced to five years in prison for promoting the cause of the militant Islamist group and aiding its branch of leaders in Yemen.

A court in Sana'a accused Abdul Elah Haidar Shaea of "working in the media for the benefit of al-Qaeda, taking pictures of security buildings, embassies, and foreign interests in Sana'a, and inciting al-Qaeda to attack them".

Speaking from a cell inside the court building Shaea denied having personal ties to al-Qa'ida, saying the case was “fabrication by the authorities that is unfounded and untrue". Shaea, known internationally as an al-Qa'ida expert, is believed to have close ties to the group. Presiding Judge Redhwan al-Namir said that the evidence presented during the trial undoubtedly proved Shaea's involvement with the group.

"He supported al Qaeda and its leaders in Yemen as a journalist, publishing false news and statements in the media on the security situation in Yemen," the judge said. "He attracted foreigners (to al Qaeda) and gathered information on embassies and security installations to help al Qaeda," said al-Namir.

In addition to the five year custodial sentence, the court also ordered Shaea to be put under strict police surveillance after his release from prison. Shaea said he would not appeal against the court's decision as he felt the appeal would not be handled fairly.

The court also sentenced a co-defendant, Abdul-Kareem Daoud al-Shami, to two years in jail in the same case, and imposed a two-year travel ban outside the capital city on both men.

Sources: Reuters, M & C, Alarabiya, Sify, Ha'aretz, News Yemen, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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