A court in the rebel-controlled capital of Yemen has sentenced a veteran journalist to death on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia, according to the press union and media outlets.
Rebel news agency, Saba reported on Thursday that 61-year-old Yahya Al-Jubaihi was convicted of establishing “contact with a foreign state” and providing Saudi diplomats in Sanaa with “reports that posed harm to Yemen militarily, politically and economically.”
Prosecutors claimed that Al-Jubaihi received a monthly salary of 4,500 Saudi riyals ($1,200) from Riyadh, and had been doing so since 2010.
The Yemeni press union condemned the “arbitrary” sentence, accusing the rebels of “targeting the freedom of the press.”
Noting that the journalist was seized from his home on September 6, it described Al-Jubaihi as a “veteran journalist with a ong record of professional work across Yemen.”
The ministry of information based in Aden said that the trial was a “farce” and claimed that the rebels were trying to “settle political accounts…through a politicised judiciary.”
Al-Jubaihi wrote regular columns in Saudi dailies Okaz and Al-Madina, as well as in Yemeni newspapers, and working in the government’s press department in the 1990’s and 2000’s.
Media groups have repeatedly raised concerns over the treatment of journalists at the hands of the rebels in Yemen as the conflict has escalated in recent years.
Journalist Mohammed Al-Absi died suddenly in December after publishing reports about alleged corruption. His family reported later that a post-mortem had discovered that he had been poisoned.
Eight reporters were killed in Yemen last year, according to the International Federation of Journalists, making it the fourth deadliest country in the world after Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico.