American bloggers have it pretty easy compared to the perils that freedom-loving bloggers in more repressive countries face. The number of blogging arrests world-wide tripled last year. Egypt, Iran and China account for more than half of all blogging arrests.
Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation blogs regularly about the case of online journalist Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani, who received a six-year jail sentence from the Yemeni government last week. Her reporting has really pissed off the Yemeni government, and they have banned her blog in that country.
Al-Khaiwani (pictured), a pro-democracy journalist and activist was convicted by a Yemeni court for conspiring with anti-government rebels, a ridiculous charge that Novak and others have soundly refuted.
Frontline Defenders has more on al-Khaiwani:
Charges of insulting the president and “demoralising the military” as well as allegations that he had links with an al-Houthi terrorist cell had been brought against Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani based on articles written about the Sa’ada war in Yemen.
The newspaper for which Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani works has been closed and his website has been blocked. His family have also been subject to physical abuse and threats. In 2004, he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for supporting Hussain Badr al-Din al-Huthi, a cleric from the Zaidi community. On 20 June 2007, he was arrested at his home for allegedly having ties with an al-Houthi terrorist cell. According to reports, these accusations were fabricated. Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani has previously reported on human rights violations against the Zaidi community and those suspected of having links to al-Houthi. On 27 August 2007, after having been released, Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani was abducted and tortured by a gang of armed men. His family have also been subject to physical abuse and threats.
In Singapore on Monday a U.S. citizen named Gopalan Nair was charged with insulting a judge because he wrote on his blog that the judge was “prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders”. Nair faces one year in prison and a fine.
The whole NSA wiretapping deal is a pisser, and the Bush administration are horrendous by American standards, but imagine the sentences some American bloggers would face if we had to answer to the Singaporean government.