Ten Yemeni journalists held by Houthi rebels since 2015 are now risking death penalty, said a statement by Reporters Without Borders (or Reporters Sans Frontières RSF), calling for their immediate release and acquittal of charges against them.
"The journalists learned on 19 February that they are to be tried by a Houthi special criminal court on a charge of 'collaborating with the enemy', which carries the death penalty under Houthi justice," the RSF said Tuesday on its website.
The ten journalists were abducted by the Houthis on the absurd grounds that the Arab coalition could have used their reporting to help target its air strikes, according to an Amnesty International report.
Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.
The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Hadi.
"After being arbitrarily imprisoned by the Houthis for four years, held in appalling conditions and subjected to torture, these ten journalists could now be executed," said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF's Middle East desk. "Their ordeal has dragged on for too long. We call for their immediate and unconditional release."
Some of these journalists are suffering from the serious physical after-effects of the torture to which they have been subjected, according to a Yemeni NGO, Association of Mothers of Detainees, said RSF.
"Some were forced to make confession that were filmed. Many of them have also been starved and are in very poor psychological condition.
"Anwar al-Rakan, a journalist who was freed in mid-2018 after being held for a year by the Houthis, was in such a terrible condition that he died two days after his release.
The ten journalists are Tawfiq al-Mansouri, Essam Belgheeth, Hassan Enab, Hisham Tarmoom, Hisham al-Yousefi, Hitham al-Shihab, Akram al-Walidi, Harith Homaid, Abdel Khaleq Omran and Salah al-Kaadi.
"They all worked for media outlets regarded as sympathetic to Yemen's Islah Party," Muslim Brethren offshoot.
"At least 17 journalists and citizen-journalists are currently held hostage in Yemen – 16 by the Houthis and one by al-Qaeda.
"Abuses against journalists, combined with political and economic pressure resulting from the civil war and the blockade imposed by the Arab coalition, have stifled all media independence.
"Yemen is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index," according to the RSF statement.
Yemen conflict has left tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands injured, and 3 million displaced, triggering the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 8.4 million people unsure how to get next meal, and some 2 million children suffering severe shortage of nutrition.