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Watchdogs: Houthis Holding More Than 40 Media Staff

Watchdogs: Houthis Holding More Than 40 Media Staff

Wednesday, 6 December, 2017 - 11:30
A Houthi rebel rides on the back of a truck as clashes with forces loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh continue in Sanaa, Yemen December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Houthi insurgents have detained more than 40 media staff, press watchdogs said on Wednesday, demanding their immediate release.

They include staff of Yemen Today -- a television channel affiliated with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom the Houthis killed on Monday, the watchdogs said.

The insurgents overran the television's Sana’a offices on Saturday after attacking it with rocket-propelled grenades and wounding three guards, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

"This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen towards journalists, who are often targeted in this conflict," said RSF's Alexandra El Khazen.

A spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release of the journalists, saying the Houthi attack on Yemen Today "shows a profound contempt for press freedom". 

An official of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) said some of the detained staff had since been transferred to prison while others were still being held in the television's offices. 

"The Houthis were exerting pressure on them to change their coverage, to issue certain statements and report the betrayal of former president Saleh.

"But the journalists refused to do it," the official said.

Yemen's Sana’a-based national syndicate of journalists said the Houthis were posting the names of employees of media they regarded as hostile at checkpoints around the capital and demanded "an end to abuses".

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