SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A court in Yemen's rebel-held capital on Tuesday sentenced four activists to prison terms, ranging from six months to three years, over their criticism of the Iran-backed rebels on social media, a lawyer said.
According to their lawyer, Waddah Qutaish, the four were convicted of inciting chaos, disrupting public peace and insulting the Iran-backed rebels, also known as Houthis.
They were detained in Sanaa in December and January on charges stemming from videos they had posed on social media last year criticizing the Houthis over alleged corruption and their handling of the economy.
The rebels control Sanaa and most of northern Yemen. The activists’ arrest and trial are part of the Houthis’ crackdown on dissent and on those seen as working for the enemy, the Saudi-led coalition which has been battling the Houthis in Yemen's civil war since 2015 in an effort to restore the internationally recognized government to power.
One of the activists, Ahmed Elaw, was sentenced to three years while another activist, Mustafa al-Moumari, got a year and a half. The two remaining activists, Ahmed Hajar and Hamoud al-Mesbahi, were sentenced to a year and six months, respectively, the defense attorney said.
The court also ordered the closure of the activists' YouTube channels and fined them each 10 million Yemeni riyals, or about $40,000, Qutaish added. He denounced the verdict as “politically motivated,” and said he would appeal.