Detained reporters’ families: WashPo published op-ed by Yemeni press’ top enemy

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The brother of a Yemeni journalist who is detained by the Houthi militias publicly condemned The Washington Post for publishing an article by the militias’ number two man who is responsible for the deaths of several journalists.

“The article of the criminal and murderer Mohammad Ali al-Houthi in the Washington Post is a horrific professional fall for an old newspaper. This behavior has raised many question marks in the Yemeni media," Abdul-Baset al-Qaidi told Al Arabiya English.

“Mohammed al-Houthi writes about dignity which is tarnished by dust, and talks about press freedoms while his militias carry out war crimes and eradicate the rights of Yemeni press. The Houthis have become outstanding in their crimes against journalists,” al-Qaidi added.

Qaidi’s brother Salah has been kidnapped and detained for three years since 2015, “for just being a journalist.” He said that he was subjected to torture and forced disappearance, with no visitations allowed.

“It is very unfortunate that a newspaper the size of The Washington Post gives a platform to an internationally sanctioned person accused of war crimes, only to try to hurt Saudi Arabia and the Coalition. This is how some understood and interpreted that behavior. What happened shook the newspaper’s presence in the hearts of its Arab audience and followers,” al-Qaidi said.

Saleh is now in a political security prison, Qaidi said, along with 16 other journalists, with limited supply of food or medication and cells that are in very bad condition.

“Any journalist in the Houthis’ view is a criminal. This is why they intended to take over Sanaa and rid it of journalists, and why the Yemeni Television was their first target where they surrounded it and broke in with heavy weapons while it had about 300 staff inside,” he added.

The brother of another detained journalist who was kidnapped by the Houthis told Al Arabiya English of his encounter with middlemen who were using Mohammed al-Houthi’s name as leverage to ensure him that they were in direct contact with the Houthi leader who is the only one who can free his brother.

“My brother, journalist Tawfik al-Mansouri, and his eight colleagues were kidnapped from a hotel in Sanaa in 2015. I met with a Houthi leader called Abu Hussein who introduced me to a middleman to help me free my brother,” Wadah al-Mansouri told Al Arabiya English.

“Abu Hussein boasted about his numerous meetings with ‘the head of the revolutionary committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi’ to make sure we trusted him. He said he solved many cases that other middlemen couldn’t because of his personal relationship with ‘Abu Ahmed’ (Mohammed al-Houthi) whose directives are acted upon immediately everywhere,” he said.

Mansouri also said that the middleman told him the final decision always goes back to Mohammed al-Houthi, while telling him: “I just hope his mood is calm toward the media these days,” adding that this will affect his decision.

Mansouri’s brother is still in jail, making it four years of detention thus far.

Yemenis had voiced their anger over an article by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of what’s called the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of the Houthi militias, published by The Washington Post on November 9, a move considered an editorial drop for the newspaper, especially that the Houthi top leader is described as a “war criminal.”

Mohammed al-Houthi is one of the top figures of the Houthis and the second in rank in the pro-Iranian militias who is implicated in issuing directives for killing more than 26 Yemeni journalists, while there are 16 journalists till this day in detention centers.

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