Two Yemeni officials told Arab News on Monday that during prisoner exchange talks in Switzerland, Iran-backed Houthi delegates refused to include the names of four journalists in their captivity who face the death penalty in the expected swap deal with the government.


The families of the journalists have pleaded with the Yemeni government to keep up the pressure for the release of the captive journalists.

Negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis regarding a prisoner swap began this past Saturday and are set to continue for the next 11 days.

In the last two days, both sides have traded lists of hundreds of captives, disappeared persons, and others, including politicians, fighters, and military leaders. The Yemeni government proposed including the four journalists in the upcoming prisoner swap, but the Houthis rejected the idea.

Yemen’s minister of information Muammar Al-Eryani has called for more pressure to be put on the Houthis to release the journalists, who are being tortured physically and psychologically.

Majed Fadail, deputy minister of human rights in the Yemeni government and a member of the delegation, said that negotiations for a prisoner swap had stalled.

In 2015, the Houthis abducted nine journalists from a hotel in Sanaa, including reporters Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidy, Abdul Khaleq Omaran, and Harith Hamid. The Houthis released five journalists in what was likely the final major prisoner exchange in October of 2020.

The remaining four were captured and put on trial by the Houthis, who found them guilty of spying and executed them after torturing them, withholding medical care, and cutting off all communication with their loved ones.

Leader of the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate Nabil Al-Osaidi told Arab News, “The Houthis refuse to consider the subject of journalists in any exchange of detainees to use them as leverage to get the release of top Houthi officials.”

The families of the four journalists have demanded that the Houthis be pressured until their release is confirmed by the Yemeni government, the UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg who is sponsoring the talks, and rights groups.

“The journalists’ file should not be open to such blackmail and haggling, and they should be freed right away,” Abdullah Al-Mansouri, brother of abducted journalist Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, told Arab News.

Abdullah said he hoped the negotiations would lead to his brother and the other journalists’ release. We’re holding our breath in the hopes that they’ll be freed soon. My brother Tawfiq and his coworkers are expected any minute now, and we couldn’t be more anxious.

Yemenia Airlines’ bank accounts in Houthi-controlled institutions have been frozen on suspicion that the airline is failing to meet demand for expanded service between Sanaa and Cairo and Mumbai.

The minister of information in Yemen has issued a warning that the company’s operations and flights out of Sanaa airport will be halted if the Houthis take any action against the company.

The Yemeni minister said on Twitter that the Houthi terrorist militia’s actions showed their determination to keep up the escalation strategy and their opposition to efforts to improve the humanitarian situation.