Yemeni journalist remains in jail at request of President Obama
Shaye (or Shayi) is best known for his photographs and reporting on the U.S. bombing near al-Majalah in Yemn on December 17th 2009. He also interviewed Al Qaeda leaders.
In his reporting on the a-Majalah bombing Shaye noted that the site had remains of Tomahawk and cluster munitions. In June of 2010 the human rights group Amnesty International published photos from the site that showed the remains of aTomahawk cruise missile and other munitions. This missile carries cluster bomb sub-munitions. The photos purport to be taken at the site of the al-Majalah bombing.
We know from Wikileaks cables that U.S. attacks were represented as attacks by Yemeni forces with the agreement of the Saleh government. Shaye's evidence had shown this much earlier. Shaye also reported that 21 children and 14 women had been killed in the bombing.
In January of 2011 Shaye was arrested and eventually convicted on terrorism related charges. The trial was regarded by many rights groups as a sham. Shaye was sentenced to five years in prison. Many rights groups and also tribal leaders called for Shaye's release. Then president Abdullah Saleh was prepared to release Shaye but President Obama intervened.
Obama personally phoned Saleh on February 2, 2011 and expressed concern about his release. A U.S. government site actually has a summary of the call.
Obama congratulates Saleh on his significant reform measures. Saleh security forces killed many protesters and later the U.S. promoted a GCC(Gulf Cooperation Council) plan that led to Saleh' stepping down later with immunity for himself and his cronies for any crimes they had committed during their rule. The summary continues:
Finally, President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai, who had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.
Shaye's(Shai) association with AQAP(Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) had been to interview members of the group. In fact Washington used material from an interview with Anwar al-Awlaki as evidence that al-Awlaki supported and worked for Al Qaeda! Revealing evidence of a U.S. attack that used cluster bombs and was disguised as a Yemeni government action was probably Shaye's real crime.
As an official from Amnesty International puts it.
“Two years on, he(Shaye) remains behind bars. The charges on which he was convicted appear to be based on what he has done as part of his legitimate activities as a journalist. As such his conviction must be set aside and he should be released.”
A treaty signed by 75 countries bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. The treaty came into effect in August of 2010. However, neither Yemen nor the U.S. has signed the treaty.