Yemeni activist freed after five months in Houthi prison


Hisham al-Omeisy was arrested in August and held without charge or trial by Houthi rebels

Hisham al Omeisy pictured embracing his two children in Sana'a Yemen (Maad Alzekri)
MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
Tuesday 16 January 2018 13:56 UTC

A prominent Yemeni activist was released in Sanaa after being held without charge or trial for five months by the Houthi rebels.

Hisham al-Omeisy was arrested in August and released three days ago by the Houthi rebels who control the Yemeni capital. The group confirmed his release on Monday.

Omeisy's outspoken Twitter posts help shed light on the deteriorating security situation inside Yemen and were critical of both sides of the ongoing civil war. 

Omeisy's last post on Twitter before his arrest said "armed goons" had shown up at his door. 

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Prominent Yemeni activist detained by Houthis in Sanaa

Images on social media showed Omeisy hugging his two young children and smiling.  

Omeisy was held incommunicado in an undisclosed location in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, after he was taken away by Houthi-backed National Security Bureau (NSB) security forces in August.

Samah Hadid, director of campaigns for Amnesty International in the Middle East, said his detention "illustrates the lengths to which local Houthi-Saleh authorities are willing to go to peaceful silence activists."

“Hisham al-Omeisy has been detained without charge or a court appearance in breach of Yemen’s constitution, which requires anybody arrested to be presented in court within 24 hours".

She said that he was a "prisoner of conscience, whose only 'crime' is peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be released immediately".

Campaign to #Freehisham

During his arrest, supporters of Omeisy took to Twitter to call for his release under the hashtag #Freehisham.

Since his arrest, however, Omeisy has not given any comments to the media or posted on his social media accounts.

Earlier this month, Yemeni government forces closed down Al Jazeera’s office in Taiz, central Yemen. 

The government cited the network's negative coverage of the forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. 

In December 2017, Houthi rebels raided the Yemen al-Youm TV channel in Sanaa, holding its staff members hostage.

The network is associated with the late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by the Houthis on 4 December.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led bombardment began.

The conflict has also pushed the country to the verge of famine and has caused a deadly cholera outbreak.