Yemen rebels free pro-Saleh media staff


Sanaa (AFP)

Yemen's Huthi rebels have freed the journalists and staff of Yemen Today, the TV channel of the country's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the rebel-run Saba news agency said Wednesday.

A photo released by Saba showed 37 members of the Yemen Today crew upon their release.

An official in Saleh's General Peoples' Congress party and fellow Yemeni journalists said to AFP, however, that all 41 journalists and associated staff -- taken captive earlier this month -- had been released.

The Iran-allied Huthi rebels overran the television's Sanaa offices on December 2 as their three-year alliance with Saleh's forces unravelled, attacking it with rocket-propelled grenades and wounding three guards.

Rebel information minister Ahmed Hamed moved to open a new page with pro-Saleh journalists on Wednesday.

"The homeland is open to all and requires the contributions of all of its citizens, especially media professionals," he said.

He said unity was needed in the face of "aggression" by the Saudi-led coalition -- which Saleh had sought to repair ties with before his death at the hands of the Huthis on December 4.

Members of the Yemeni press, who declined to be named, said the journalists had been informed they could return to work, but this time under "supervision" of the Huthis.

The freeing of the Yemen Today staff comes after pressure from global media watchdogs as well as from Yemen's Sanaa-based national syndicate of journalists.

But it was an emergency parliament meeting between Huthi representatives and those of Saleh's General Peoples' Congress focused on reconciliation and a salvaging of their alliance which led to the journalists' release, the press sources said.