Detention of Yemeni Journalist, Ahmed Maher – A Grave Example of Threats to Press Freedom in Yemen

This informational brief sheds light on the year-long detention of Yemeni journalist Ahmed Maher, highlighting the perilous conditions faced by journalists in Yemen when exercising their right to disseminate information and express opinions. Maher’s imprisonment is suspected to be politically motivated, as he was critical of local authorities in Aden prior to his arrest. The report is based on interviews with closed sources, and an analysis of open-source documentation.

This report serves as an urgent call to address the challenges faced by journalists in Yemen and to ensure Ahmed Maher’s right to a fair and speedy trial is respected by putting an end to the pattern of postponements that have characterized his trial thus far.

[UPDATED OCT 31, 2023] The Justice 4 Yemen Pact coalition has also published a joint statement on the ongoing legal violations resulting from Ahmed Maher’s case and detention. The statement was signed by 9 coalition partners as well as two external supporting organizations and calls upon Chief Justice Ali Al-Awash to intervene immediately to remedy the ongoing legal violations. Read the full statement here.


Key Facts:

  • Ahmed Maher was arrested on August 6, 2022, by the Dar Saad police department in Aden.
  • Following his arrest, Maher endured physical and psychological torture for about a month, as reported by a closed source.
  • A distressing “confession” video of Maher emerged on September 4, 2022, in which he appears to have recited a scripted statement under duress.
  • Yemen’s President Rashad al-Alimi requested an investigation into Maher’s case after the video surfaced, but Aden authorities, under the de facto control of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), seemingly disregarded the request.
  • Maher was transferred to Bir Ahmed prison in Aden on September 15, 2022, and is currently facing trial in Aden’s Specialized Criminal Court.
  • The prosecution charged Maher with “publishing fake and misleading news intended to disrupt peace and security,” possibly under Article 198 of Law No. 12 of 1994 Concerning Crimes and Penalties, which carries fines and up to two years in prison.
  • Maher’s trial is running concurrently with a group of men accused of a bombing at the Dar Saad police department in March 2022, and STC-affiliated actors have labeled Maher with terrorism-related charges.
  • Irregularities and breaches of international and Yemeni law in the police and judiciary’s handling of the case further raise concerns about the fairness and justice in Maher’s trial.

An Arabic copy can be found at:

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