Almigdad Mojalli, 1980-2016

Almigdad Mojalli was a dedicated and talented Yemeni journalist who wrote for international outlets including Voice of America and IRIN. He was killed by a Saudi airstrike on January 17 while reporting on the civilian toll of a previous strike outside of San‘a. He leaves behind a wife and a young son. Two of Almigdad's colleagues, Shuaib Almosawa and Kareem Fahim, wrote about Almigdad for The New York Times this week.

Mr. Mojalli...wrote about the dilemmas Yemeni journalists faced, working and living in a war zone and juggling the job with worries for family and friends. In September,writing for IRIN, an international news service that focuses on humanitarian issues, he chronicled yet another strike. This time, the victims included relatives.

Before that attack, he had become desensitized, he said. "I’ve been to dozens of bomb sites," he wrote. "Every day, I wake up to hear that 10 people were killed last night, or 20, or 40. It almost stops feeling real."

An online donation page has been created to raise money for Almigdad's widow and child.

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.

Mafraj Radio Episode 4: The Foreign Press Corps

This episode features highlights from a conversation with journalists Jeb Boone (Global Post, CSM), Tom Finn (The Yemen Times, The Guardian), and Laura Kasinof (The New York Times), about their experiences in Yemen--which include covering the 2011 uprising--and their observations on contemporary journalism.

About our guests:

Jeb Boone Jeb Boone is a journalist, former managing editor of the Yemen Times, and blogger at GlobalPost's "The Grid". Boone's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, and Global Post. He has also appeared on the BBC World Service, BBC World News, Sky News, and Anderson Cooper 360. Jeb tweets at @JebBoone

Tom Finn Tom Finn is a British freelance journalist currently based in New York.

He lived in San‘a from 2010 until June 2012, where he worked as an editor at the Yemen Times and later as a freelancer, reporting on the mass uprising and military infighting that ended the 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has written for The Guardian, TIME, Reuters, Foreign Policy, The Economist, Newsweek, and other publications.

A recipient of this year’s Alistair Cooke Award in Journalism, Tom is currently completing an MA in Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University. Tom tweets at @TomFinn2

Laura Kasinof Laura Kasinof is a freelance print journalist. From 2009– March 2012 she was based in San‘a where she reported regularly for The New York Times on Yemen’s uprising.

Her articles have also appeared in The Economist, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, and Al Jazeera International, among others. She has appeared on radio and TV outlets such as BBC World Service, Democracy Now, Al Jazeera International and NPR. Laura has also been invited as a panelist to speak about Yemen at institutions such as the Atlantic Council, Chatham House, The New America Foundation and the National Counterterrorism Center.

She also helped produce the Yemen segment of the documentary-in-progress, Shake the Dust.

Laura graduated from New York University with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Politics. She lived between Cairo and San‘a for nearly five years. Laura tweets at @Kasinof