Houthis free journalist, continue to hold others

Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) have freed a journalist they had been holding in Sanaa since August, but others remain in arbitrary detention, AFP reported Tuesday (January 16th).

Hisham Omeisy had spoken out against restrictions in Houthi-held areas.

"The release of Hisham al-Omeisy today is a welcome step -- however, Houthi authorities must also immediately and unconditionally free all prisoners of conscience languishing in detention," Amnesty International's Samah Hadid said.

Pictures circulating on social media showed Omeisy hugging his two young sons, thin but apparently unharmed.

Amnesty said there had been a surge in arbitrary detentions in Yemen since 2016, with journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Bahai religious minority most at risk.

The Houthis sentenced Yemeni Bahai Hamid Haydar to death earlier this month Amnesty said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said it has documented 66 cases of arbitrary arrest by the Houthis, who control Sanaa and much of the north of Yemen.

Two of those held died in custody, while 11 more suffered ill-treatment, including torture, HRW said.

Last October, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate told Al-Mashareq that freedom of the press was at its lowest point since the Houthis entered Sanaa.

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