A court run by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has sentenced four journalists to death on spying charges.
The court convicted the journalists of “collaborating with the enemy,” referring to the Saudi-led coalition that has been at war with the Houthis since 2015, and “spreading false news and rumors.”
Lawyer Abdel-Majeed Sabra identified the four sentenced to death as Abdel-Khaleq Amran, Akram al-Walidi, Hareth Hamid, and Tawfiq al-Mansouri.
The court also convicted six other journalists with the same charges, but ordered their release after they served their time. They were placed under strict surveillance conditions and were banned from practicing journalism.
The released journalists have called for the release of their colleagues and said the Yemeni government is not doing enough to negotiate the release.
The journalists said they were subjected to torture, starvation, and solitary confinement for years before being put on trial in 2020.
“We would need to write books to [fully] describe what we went through and suffered in these detention facilities. Only God knows the hardships and suffering of our families in our absence,” the four freed journalists said in a statement shared to British news website The Guardian.
“And there are still four journalists, who were sentenced to death inside these dark prisons, waiting for fate to intervene to save their lives and bring them back to their children,” the journalists further stated.
Rights group Amnesty International last year condemned the charges as “trumped up” and said that the journalists were doing their jobs.
Amnesty International also said that defense lawyers and family members were not allowed to attend the trial and that an appeal was rejected.
The Houthis arrested all 10 rebels in raids in the capital of Sana’a in 2015.
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