Yemen editor jailed by blackmail
Newsweek has an interview with Mohammed al-Asaadi, the editor of the Yemen Observer who was recently jailed for reprinting the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. His situation seems just ridiculously unfair:
When we ran our article on the Danish cartoons, it was all about how the Prophet should be honored, with quotations from famous people about what an important figure he was, and a news story on Yemeni protests. We reprinted the cartoons but blacked them out. Unfortunately by an innocent mistake in the production process, a thumbnail of the cartoons appeared on the front page—only 1.5cm [0.6 of an inch] by 2cm [0.8 of an inch], you could hardly read it. But then one of the directors of [the newspaper] al-Akhbar al Yawn approached the Yemen Observer owners to blackmail us—that unless we paid them they would raise a stink. We refused, and they collected signatures on a petition that they presented to the prosecutor. Theirs is a newspaper that lives by blackmail, everybody knows that. But the government responded by revoking our license to publish and putting me in jail.So blackmail and corruption, twined with the irrational furore over the cartoons, could earn this man anything up to a life sentence. Pathetic.