A leading journalist in Yemen has been sentenced to six years in prison just days before he was due to attend Amnesty International’s media awards ceremony in London.
Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, the former editor of Yemen’s political weekly newspaper Al-Shora, was sentenced to six years imprisonment on Monday after being convicted by the Specialised Criminal Court in a case known as Sana’a Cell Two.
He was tried along with 13 others who were accused of forming an armed gang and planning criminal acts.
A critic of the state of Yemen, al-Khaiwani has repeatedly been targeted for his work and has received death threats, beatings and been detained a number of times.
In a statement issued by Amnesty, al-Khaiwani is reported to have said:
‘The authorities in Yemen are trying to silence me and they even appear to be prepared to lock me up to keep me quiet. I definitely don’t want to go to prison again just for doing my job as a journalist, but at the same time I’m not prepared to censor myself for an easy life.
Amnesty International announced last week that al-Khaiwani had been shortlisted for its 2008 ‘Special Award For Human Rights Journalism Under Threat’ along with Azerbaijani journalist Aqil Xalil.