International Efforts to Rescind Death Sentence to Yemeni Journalist Yahya Al-Jubaihy

Akram Al-Jubaihy (Nephew of Yahya) to Y-A:  “We are continuing and escalating our campaign to enhance our position.”

Sana’a – Yemen – The Yemeni  American News:

The family of the Yemeni journalist Yahya Abdu-Raquib Al-Jubaihy continues its efforts to mobilize advocacy support to rescind the death sentence issued against him by the Penal Court of Jurisdiction under the de facto authority in Sana’a last April.

While Bushra, the daughter of the convicted journalist, living in Goteborg (?), Sweden is focusing the advocacy appeal for rescinding the death sentence on Sweden, her cousin Akram is active inside Yemen hoping to mobilize support and communication, with a view to organize protest vigils and issuing statements rejecting the sentence and calling for the release of his uncle, as well as the latter’s  son Hamzah. Both the latter have been under arrest since last September, 2016.

Akram spoke by phone to Y-A, confirming the family’s rejection and refusal to acknowledge the Court’s decision and.  He said, “We as family members of the journalist Yahya Al-Jubaihy, are continuing our position against the unjust arrest and sentence meted out to the journalist Yahya Al-Jubaihy by the de facto authorities in Sana’a.  We will not stop our campaign and our escalation.  All options are open until the immediate release of the journalist Yahya Al-Jubaihy and his son, Hamzah unconditionally and without any restrictions.”

He further added:  “We are continuing our electronic campaign , protest vigils, etc in addition to following up with the new lawyer, in order to receive the sentence, so we can appeal and object the court sentence.  In this context, Y-A also recorded the statements of Bushra Al-Jubaihy, the journalist’s daughter to the Swedish radio on 27 April, in which she explained that she has contacted the Swedish Government and a number of Swedish NGO’s.  She also contacted the Spokesman of the Houthis and a number of prominent personalities, all of whom confirmed that they were surprised by the verdict.  She confirmed that efforts shall continue until the verdict is rescinded and her father and brother are released.

After more than seven months after the disappearance and arrest of Al-Jubaihy, the Court held its first session and announced the death sentence.  This led to reactions of rejection and condemnation locally and internationally.  All considered this sentence as a serious indicator of the threat facing journalists and free opinion and freedom of expression in Yemen.  The de facto rulers in Sana’a arrested Al-Jubaihy last September just a few days after arresting his son, Hamzah Al-Jubaihy.  The penal court of jurisdiction (Security Court of the Government) issued the death sentence for a number of accusations, including “communicating with hostile states”.  Many of the advocacy groups for human rights and media channels expressed their shock to the surprising and unjust sentence, which does not rest on any legal basis, especially as a defense attorney has yet to be appointed to defend him.  The Court also rejected the defense of the lawyer appointed to defend him by the Court, which is viewed by many lawyers as a gross violation by the Court.   The decision announced by the Court convicted Al-Jubaihy and sentenced him to death, confirming as being for communicating with a hostile government and considered the documents, which were being sent by the accused, confiscated by National Security,  as confidential documents.

The Al-Jubaihy family expressed their surprise at the sentence and stated that no routine actual trials took place during the arrest period, as is usual in the courts.  They indicated that the “the verdict was ready and prepared in advance, as were the accusations were also as such.  The accusations were “weak”, as described by Rakan Al-Jubaihy, nephew of journalist Al-Jubaihy.  Advocacy media people launched widespread electronic campaigns of solidarity as well as protest vigils demanding the unconditional and unrestricted release of journalist Al-Jubaihy.  Various writers, journalists, union officials and civil society platforms criticized the sentence against Al-Jubaihy and deemed it to be a threat to the peace and security of the Yemeni society and to civil liberties.

Yahya A R Al-Jubaihy was born in 1955, in Ta’ez Governorate.  He received his Media Bachelors Degree from King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah in 1980 and a Masters Degree in International Media from Indiana University in the US in 1986.  He worked as an Editor in Saudi Ukaz Newspaper and then was the Officer responsible for Arabian Peninsula and Gulf affairs in Al-Madinah Newspaper, issued in Jeddah, KSA.  He was also a correspondent for both these newspapers and US and UK  newspapers during his postgraduate studies.  He also assumed a number of Yemeni Government positions, including Director General of Foreign Media,  Director General of Media and Cultural Affairs at the Prime Ministry, Head of the Journalistic and Media Department at the Prime Ministry, Media Consultant to the Prime Ministry and Lecturer at Sana’a University.  Since 2010, he worked as a Media Consultant for the Saudi Embassy in Sana’a.

The verdict meted out to him was met with criticism from the ranks of the de facto authority in Sana’a, whereby Mr. Mohammed Al-Makaleh (former Member of the Higher Revolutionary Committee) criticized the sentence, said:  I am for trying traitors and all traitors should be punished, but this should be with clear evidence and in public without prejudice or discrimination and free of politicizing the case.  Lawyers also challenged the means by which the verdict was issued.  They saw obvious violations legally, especially the Court’s rejection of the defense lawyer’s defense and decided with brevity that the crime was prior to the General Amnesty.  The case was then sequestered, with the Court rushing to announce the verdict, without deciding on the defense and decided to proclaim the verdict during the Court’s session, which is a clear legal violation.