Yemen closes opposition paper for harming national unity

April 6th, 2008 - 4:34 am ICT by admin  

Sanaa, April 6 (DPA) The Yemeni government closed one of the country’s top opposition newspapers Saturday, citing violations against “national unity”. Minister of Information Hassan al-Lawzi issued a decree cancelling the licence of the al-Wasat weekly “due to its publication of materials prohibited by the law and against the national unity”.

The decision also accused the paper of “undermining the country’s highest interests through harming the warm relations with brotherly countries”.

It did not name any country, but al-Wasat has been frequently accused by state media of harming Yemen’s ties with its oil-rich neighbour Saudi Arabia.

It was the first time a licence of a newspaper had been suspended since 1990, when North and South Yemen were reunified.

After the reunification, the country introduced more freedom for the press, and dozens of independent and opposition newspapers were established.

Commenting on his newspaper’s suspension, editor-in-chief Jamal Amer said the decision was “political rather than legal”.

“It is a weird move, and I doubt it was decided by the Information Ministry, it is a political decision contradicting the law, and is not logical,” Amer said.

He said the newspaper would sue the ministry over the suspension.

Established in 2004, al-Wasat is known for its critical coverage of Saudi Arabia as well as sensitive political issues, particularly the government corruption.

Yemeni press and publications law prohibits the dissemination of any material seen as harming the national unity or ties with Arab countries.

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