A Houthi court has sentenced abducted journalist Yahya Abduraqeeb al-Jubaihi to death on Wednesday, accusing him of collaborating with enemy states, activists said.
Yemeni sources said that the verdict was surprising as there was no prior trial and the journalist was not given the right to appoint a lawyer to defend him.
The Houthi court accused Jubaihi of helping President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s government of conducting killings and attacks in Houthi-held areas.
The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that Jubaihi was accused of establishing contacts with enemy states and sending reports that endangered Yemen on military, economic and political levels.
This is the first time a journalist has been sentenced to death in Yemen.
Jubaihi was abducted from his home in Sanaa after Houthi militias stormed his office in September last year.
Yemen’s former Minister for Human Rights, Hooria Mashhour, wrote on Twitter “We have to stand against this farce trial.”
while the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate issued a statement condemning the death sentence of Jubaihi, calling the verdict “heinous” and “unconstitutional.”
A close friend of the Jubaihi told Al Arabiya English that he was reasonable person who was always civilized when addressing his views and has never been a affiliated with any political party in Yemen.
“It seems one of his personal enemies is a pro-Houthi,” Asaad al-Kamel said, stating that he was accused by Houthis who work “like gangsters.”
“We are all surprised, maybe they want to punish public figures from Taiz area with high education to set an example,” he added.
A member of the Arab Journalists’ Association and Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate, Jubaihi was also a lecturer at the University of Sanaa. He also worked under former Prime Minister Abdulaziz Abdulghani.
In the eighties, he served as a correspondent and was appointed as media counselor for the Yemeni Cabinet.
Since the turmoil began in Yemen, following the attempted coup by Houthi militias against President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi’s government in September 2014, several cases of abducted journalists and activists in Sanaa have been reported.
Early last year, Yemeni security officials said militias detained a number of activists and critics including a local journalist in the capital.
While last month, Houthis assaulted tens of journalists in an unprecedented attack that saw them open fire towards reporters protesting. Many journalists from Yemen’s al-Thawra News organization gathered outside their offices to protest against the Houthi interferences.
Kamel, who said he and his family knew Jubaihi for many years, stated that he “really feels the pain of an innocent person.”