Page last updated at 19:15 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 20:15 UK

Yemen 'curbing freedom' of press


Two media freedom campaign groups have criticised Yemen for what they say are attempts to suppress reporting about protests in the south of the country.

The groups say the popular al-Ayyam newspaper has faced harassment and the confiscation of thousands of copies.

The criticism was made by Reporters Without Borders (RWP) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

At least seven people have been killed in clashes between the security forces and anti-government protesters.

RWP said the Yemeni information ministry had banned the printing of al-Ayyam and six other newspapers for allegedly promoting separatism.

The Yemeni information ministry denied doing so, and said it had only ordered the withdrawal of one edition of one of the papers.

Reports quoting al-Ayyam's editor say lorries carrying editions of the privately owned daily were looted and set on fire by pro-government militias known as the Guards of Unity.

On Monday the ministry of information issued a decree suspending publication of any paper that "harmed national unity".

Correspondents say Yemen has until recently been able to boast a fairly rigorous press, despite President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade monopolisation of political power.

"I can say that the freedom of the press and speech is dying in Yemen," former press syndicate head Abdul Bari Taher is quoted saying by Associated Press.

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