Yemeni YouTubers tried by Iran-backed Houthis for inciting ‘chaos’

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Three Yemeni YouTubers stood trial in a Houthi court on Wednesday charged with spreading misinformation and inciting “chaos,” according to court documents seen by AFP.

The three, including Mustafa al-Mawmari who has more than two million followers, were detained in Sanaa in December after they published videos critical of the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

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Ahmad Hajar, who has more than 243,000 subscribers, and Ahmad Elaw with 800,000 also appeared before the court.

They were charged with “spreading misinformation” and “harming public interest,” as well as “inciting the masses to commit acts of chaos,” according to the court documents.

It was not clear when a verdict would be issued.

The Houthis are increasingly limiting individual liberties, including free speech and the movement of women in areas they control.

The YouTubers’ influence was seen as “serving the aggression... against Yemen” by the Arab Coalition backing the Yemeni government, the court documents said.

Hajar, 43, was the first to be captured after he accused the Houthis of “robbing the Yemeni people,” in a video watched by half a million viewers.

One of Hajar’s relatives confirmed his arrest to AFP and said that “he was kidnapped from the street on December 22.”

Hajar’s family visited him in detention and found him in “terrible shape,” the relative said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“He was not himself,” the relative added.

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