A new crackdown on foreign press?

Maybe. Yesterday it came to light, via a wave of social media outrage, that American journalist Adam Baron had been deported from Yemen. Adam had been living in San‘a since the beginning of 2011, and as a freelancer for McClatchy, the Christian Science Monitor, and other outlets, he was responsible for some of the best English-language reporting to come out of Yemen's uprising of 2011. Since then he has cemented his position as one of the most well-connected, insightful, and reliable foreign correspondents in the country (an admittedly small pool, but Adam would do as well on any other beat). The events that lead to Adam's expulsion began on Monday, it seems. Yesterday he arrived in Cairo, at which point his friend and flat-mate (and Mafraj Radio guest) Farea al-Muslimi began discussing the case on Twitter.

By last night, Gregory Johnsen had published additional details in a piece for Buzzfeed, while one of Adam's McClatchy colleagues, Hannah Allam, wrote an even more detailed piece. Late last night, Adam finally spoke for himself on the situation:

While all of this was going on, another American journalist, Tik Root, was trying to get back to San‘a after some time away (Tik covered Olympic skiing for NBC, among other things). Yemeni security had other plans, though.

Naturally the Yemeni government hasn't commented officially on the reasons for Tik's and Adam's expulsions, and neither has the US State Department. Some officials who spoke on background to the Yemen Post suggested that Adam had been kicked out for his own safety; kidnappings of foreigners have been on the rise, and AQAP seems to be stepping up its campaign of violence in the capital in response to the military's assault on AQAP positions in the south (more on that later). It could well be that Yemeni authorities are just too scared of anything happening to American citizens to risk allowing them to stay in the country. The US embassy in San‘a closed to public today, citing a recent attack on the EU mission and the general insecurity. 

It could also be, of course, that Yemeni authorities (some of them, anyway) want less foreign press coverage right now. If that's the case, I can't tell exactly why it would be. In recent days the government has seemed eager to publicize its "advances" against AQAP. I doubt we'll get any further official clarification from the Yemeni government, but if we hear anything enlightening, we'll update this post accordingly. There are still a few foreign journalists in San‘a, including Iona Craig and Casey Coombs; I doubt either of them would be surprised to get a call from the authorities, but let's hope they're left alone.