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Yemen: Houthi Militia free five journalists as part of a prisoner exchange but four journalists remain on death row

Five Yemeni journalists have been released by the Houthi militia as part of a prisoner exchange coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The five released have been confirmed as Hisham Ahmed Saleh Tarmoom, Hisham Abdul Malik Abdul Razzaq Al Yousfi, Haytham Abdul Rahman Saeed Rawah Al Shehab, Issam Amin Bel Ghaith, and Hassan Abdullah Yahya Anab.

Hisham Al Yousfi and Haitham Al Shehab
Hisham Al Yousfi
Hassan Anab
Issam Amin Bel Ghaith

These journalists are five of the original ten arrested on espionage charges in Yemen capital Sana’a in 2015. Their Defence attorney, Abdul Majeed Sabra confirmed the Houthi controlled Terrorism Court in Sana’a, issued a ruling in favour of the journalists who had spent five years in jail. The journalists, who were freed based on time served, will now be placed under close supervision.

With this latest release, only four journalists remain in prison however their sentences placed them on death row.

Abdel Khaleq Omran, Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Harith Hamid and Akram Al-Walidi who were sentenced to death by the Houthi courts are still in prison and were not included in the prisoner swap.

Journalists in return for soldiers: The Houthi bargaining chip

Hadi Haig, Head of the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee of the internationally recognised government of Yemen said in a press statement “preparations and logistical arrangements were completed, in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross present in Sana’a, Marib and Seiyun, where the prisoners will be transferred in two batches from Sanaa to Seiyun and vice versa. A batch of Houthi prisoners will be transferred from Saudi Arabia to Sana’a, provided that the 19 prisoners belonging to the coalition will be transferred from Sana’a to Riyadh.

Haig explained that the exchange process on Thursday included 480 Houthi prisoners compared to 250 affiliated with the government, while the second batch will be exchanged on Friday, with the release of 200 Houthi prisoners in exchange for 251 prisoners from the southern resistance, and they will be transported through Sana’a and Aden airports. And that the arrangements are going on as planned, but he did not indicate the names of those who will be exchanged

The courts had ruled for the release of the above-mentioned journalists on 9 August 2020. However, the Houthi Militia only agreed to release them in exchange for the release of their own captured fighters, thereby using innocent civilians as bargaining chips for their own political gain.

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