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Yemen journalist held after Facebook post — media watchdog

By AFP - Mar 02,2018 - Last updated at Mar 02,2018

DUBAI — A Yemeni journalist has been missing for a week and it is believed he is being held illegally and incommunicado in the war-ravaged country, a media watchdog said on Thursday.

Awad Kashmim, editor of the pro-government newspaper 30 November, was "arrested illegally" last week in the eastern city of Mukalla in oil-rich Hadramawt province, said Reporters Without Borders.

Mukalla was under the control of Al Qaeda from 2015 to 2016, when Yemen's army and its regional military allies, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seized control of the port city.

On February 19, Kashmim posted a cryptic message in Arabic on his Facebook page leveling veiled criticism at both the army and the press.

The media, he wrote, has "lost all sense of professionalism and credibility in favour of service to regional parties".

"There can be no consolation for our people, for the misery of our society, while those leading us — to the unknown — have lost all sense of national identity," wrote Kashmim.

"I don't care what is said about me personally. I care about credibility. I care that people are not taken advantage of."

A statement released by Reporters Without Borders — a Paris-based watchdog known by its French acronym RSF — said the group was "extremely concerned about Awad Kashmim" and called for his immediate release.

"We remind Hadramawt's authorities that they are directly responsible for his fate and that it is flagrant violation of national and international law to hold a person incommunicado without any charge," said RSF.

A number of journalists have gone missing in Yemen, home to what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

RSF in December listed Yemen alongside Syria and Iraq as countries that have been "haemorrhaging journalists".

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also documented a surge in arbitrary arrests in Yemen since 2016, with journalists and human rights defenders particularly at risk.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in the Yemen war since 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition joined the government's fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

More than eight million people are at risk of famine as port blockades, cholera and diphtheria have brought the Arab world's most impoverished country to its knees.

Yemen is ranked 166th out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

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