As of July 23, 2013 Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, has been freed from a Yemeni prison where he’s been held for just over 2 and a half years.
Originally arrested by the Yemeni government on August 16, 2010, Shaye was convicted by what has been referred to as a “kangaroo court” by human rights activists everywhere of “terrorism related charges” just 34 days later.
Despite public outcry in Yemen, as well as pressure from organizations such as Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists, and even the wishes of Yemen’s own president, Shaye was kept imprisoned for the past 31 months for the crime of simply telling the truth.
You see Shaye’s real crime was contradicting the cover story of the Yemeni and American governments. Following the December 17, 2009 bombing of a village in Yemen; al-Majalah, the Yemeni government released a statement claiming credit for the blast, which killed at least 21 children and 14 women-on top of whatever target the missile was being aimed at.
Shaye became known to the world following an exclusive interview with the infamous Anwar Al-Awlaki for Al-Jazeera earlier in 2009. Shaye was granted that access at least in part due to his relation through marriage to radical Islamic clerk Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, and through that access he’s become known as one of the leading experts in the world on Al-Qaeda.
Given these connections, the somewhat broad charges leveled against him were easy to justify when twisted the right way.
What really happened, was after the bombing Shaye visited the village that was bombed, and discovered it “littered with the remnants of an US Tomahawk missile and cluster munitions”, indicating that the strike had not been Yemeni in origin, but in fact American. Shaye reported what he found, which was later confirmed by Amnesty International, The Telegraph newspaper, and Wiki-leaks.
Following this report, either US government or Yemeni government began building a case to prosecute Shaye. This culminated in his arrest on August 16, 2010, and the arrest of his friend Abdul Kareem al-Sham the next day. He was held after what he alleges was an illegal kidnapping for 35 days before appearing in court and being transferred to a state prison.
In that facility, Shaye claims to have been held in solitary confinement, tortured, and beaten. Yemen then began what most regarded as a “sham trial” and on October 22nd he was arraigned, he was tried throughout the following 3 months, and in January 2011 was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
This resulted in the aforementioned protesting, and outcry across the globe in support of his freedom.
In response to this outcry, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was prepared to release Shaye, and in February of 2011 announced his intentions to do so. However, after a call from President Obama, that decision was overturned, and Yemeni President Saleh effectively threw away the key, until this past July.
On July 23, for unexplained reasons Shaye was released from a Yemeni prison on house arrest, to serve his last two years in that way.
This will of course prevent him from visiting the sites of future bombings, but must be a welcome alternative from his three-year imprisonment.
Following his release, the Obama administration issued a statement that they were “concerned and disappointed” by his release.