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Common Dreams

Yemeni Journalist Held for Exposing US War Crimes Freed

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist who was kept in prison for three years at the request of the Obama administration after he uncovered a deadly U.S. drone strike in which dozens of innocent Yemeni civilians were killed, was finally released from prison on Tuesday.

According to Shaye's lawyer, he will have to remain in Sana'a for 2 years at which point his case will be reviewed.

According to journalist Jeremy Scahill, who reported on Shaye's story extensively, Shaye was detained after risking his life "to travel to areas controlled by Al Qaeda and to interview its leaders," and is known to have conducted the last known interview with U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki before he was killed by a U.S. drone.

However, it was Shaye's uncovering of a deadly U.S. drone strike in 2009 which ultimately lead to his legal troubles, according to Scahill and a slew of journalists and activists who have researched his case.

Shaye was a widely trusted journalist used by the Washington Post, ABC News, the New York Times and other media outlets before he was detained by Yemeni forces and accused of being an Al Qaeda operative.

At one point Shaye was to be released by Yemeni officials, "but it took just one phone call from the US president urging them to reconsider, and the government backtracked," Al Jazeera reported.


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Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have all condemned his imprisonment.

On Tuesday Scahill tweeted:

And reporter Kevin Gosztola adds:

In solidarity, it is good to see Shaye be freed. Obama owes Shaye an apology and reparations of some kind for depriving him of the years of his life that he spent in prison and could not be with his family or out in the field doing journalism. Unfortunately, as much as the administration may claim to support press freedom, it is pretty much a certainty that there will not be a peep from the Obama administration where they acknowledge it was wrong to keep Shaye jailed.


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