The Al Jazeera bureau was forcibly closed yesterday in the Yemeni city of Taiz, the news channel confirmed.
“The Yemeni military force belonging to the Higher Security Command in Taiz, southern Yemen, stormed Al Jazeera Media Network’s offices in the city and forcefully ordered its closure,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
“The network calls on the authorities in the city of Taiz to reverse its decision and allow Al Jazeera’s journalists to carry out their professional responsibilities [sic] duties without any hindrance or intimidation.”
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, president of the political bureau of the Houthi group, defended Al Jazeera, referring to the move against the news organisation as a curtailment of freedoms, Al Yemen Today reported.
However, last month, the Houthis have attacked Yemen Al Youm TV and designated some dozen media staff as prisoners in the channel’s office. The incident took place after an uptick of violence in Sana’a, after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh severed ties with the Houthis. Saleh was killed at the hands of the Houthis while attempting to leave Sana’a two days later.
Two Al Jazeera journalists were abducted in 2016 in the city of Taiz.
Yemen is ranked among the world’s most unsafe environments for journalists with Reporters Without Borders placing it at 166th – of a possible 180 – in the world for safety in 2017. The group said: “Journalists are now constantly exposed to threats, attacks, and abduction when they are not the victims of air strikes by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.”