Yemen president orders return of seized Arab TV's gear

SANAA- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has ordered the return of transmission equipment seized from Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera news teams last week, an official said on Wednesday.
"The president has ordered the return of the transmission equipment of Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera," the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Yemen president Ali Abdala saleh
Yemen president Ali Abdala saleh
He declined to give any further details.
Gear from the offices of both satellite channels in Sanaa was seized last Thursday at a time when anti-government protests were intensifying in southern Yemen.
Yemen's ruling party had accused Al-Jazeera of a lack of objectivity in its coverage of the on-going unrest, threatening to shut down the Qatari TV channel's bureau in Yemen, Saba news agency had reported earlier.
Meanwhile, the information ministry had said gear was confiscated because it was being used without clearance from Yemeni authorities.
Such equipment "should not serve to provoke trouble and amplify events in such a way as to harm public order, as has been the case with Al-Jazeera," a ministry spokesman had said.
Saeed Thabet, deputy head of the Yemeni journalists' union, had described the move as "illegal," appealing for President Saleh to intervene and have it reversed.
Others accused the government of trying to cover up its heavy-handed methods in the south, where unrest has been fired up by a secessionist campaign and charges of economic neglect.
Pro-independence protests have multiplied in the south in the face of already impoverished Yemen's worsening economic problems.
South Yemen was independent from 1967 until it united with the north in 1990. An attempt to break away again in 1994 sparked a short-lived civil war that ended when the south was overrun by northern troops.

Thursday, March 18th 2010

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