Yemen shuts Al-Jazeera offices; journalists beaten

Source Committee to Protect Journalists

Yemeni authorities today ordered Al-Jazeera's offices shut and its journalists stripped of accreditation, escalating a week-long series of reprisals against the station that has included beatings, expulsions, raids, and death threats. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the government's decision to shut Al-Jazeera and urges authorities to reverse the order immediately. Saeed Thabit, Al-Jazeera's Yemen bureau chief, said a Ministry of Information official informed him of the closure by phone but provided no specific reason. Abdu al-Gindi, Yemen's deputy minister of information, said in an Al-Jazeera interview that the station had turned into "a channel that incites revolutions." News accounts cited unnamed government sources as asserting that Al-Jazeera misidentified a short clip of prison violence as being from Yemen, a claim the station did not immediately address. The station has been providing extensive coverage of the weeks-long popular uprising that has threatened President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year reign. The closing of the station's offices comes two days after about 20 plainclothes gunmen raided Al-Jazeera's Sana'a bureau. The gunmen, whose faces were obscured by head scarves, confiscated equipment and obstructed operations while uniformed police stood by and took no action, Al-Jazeera journalists said. On Saturday, authorities expelled two Al-Jazeera correspondents. On Wednesday, government supporters attacked Al-Jazeera cameraman Mujib al-Suwailah as he filmed demonstrations in Ta'iz, Yemen's third-largest city, Thabit told CPJ. The assault was so severe that it broke al-Suwailah's arm, causing the radius bone to penetrate the skin. He underwent surgery today and remains in the hospital, Thabit said.