His Excellency President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi
President of Yemen
27 February 2012
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the continued imprisonment of journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shae.
Mr Shae, who worked as a reporter for the Saba news agency specializing in covering terrorism, has been detained in Sanaa since 16 August 2010 for alleged terrorist links. He was sentenced on 18 January 2011 to five years in prison followed by two years of house arrest for “participating in an armed band and having links with Al-Qaeda”.
Mr Shae has been regarded as a mouthpiece for Al-Qaeda by the US and Yemeni intelligences services since securing an exclusive interview for Al-Jazeera with Anwar Al-Awlaqi, a US-born radical cleric and local Al-Qaeda leader whose sermons are said to have inspired terrorist attacks in the United States.
Mr Shae should have been released under a presidential decree on 1 February 2011, but was reportedly kept in detention after pressure from the White House. He has been on hunger strike since 12 February 2012 in an attempt to pressure the authorities to release him.
We respectfully remind you that jailing Mr Shae for carrying out his duties as a journalist violates numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'
We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Mr Shae is immediately released and that all charges against him are dropped. We ask you to do everything possible to ensure that in future your country fully respects international standards of press freedom.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
Ambassador Gerald Michael Feierstein
United States Ambassador to Yemen
P.O. Box 22347