Lawyer: Yemen rebels free ex-minister, day after his arrest

April 20, 2020 GMT

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s rebels released on Monday a former culture minister and writer who was a vocal critic of their rule, his lawyer said, a day after his arrest.

The rebels, known as Houthis, stormed Khalid al-Rwaishan’s home on Sunday in a suburb of the capital Sanaa at dawn, seizing personal papers and documents, before taking him to an undisclosed location, according to his lawyer Waddah Qutaish.

Security officials in Sanaa said leaders of the Khawlan tribe, to which al-Rwaishan belongs, secured his release. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.


Many fighters from that tribe have joined the Houthis in their uprising against the internationally recognized government of Yemen.

Born in Sanaa in 1962, Khalid al-Rwaishan served as culture minister in 2006 in the government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Al-Rwaishan did not leave Sanaa in 2014 when the Houthi rebels captured the city and much of northern Yemen, toppling the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi.

He had been critical of the rebels for detaining thousands of Yemenis, including rights advocates, during the country’s grinding civil war.

The Iran-allied Houthis have detained scores of activists, journalists and lawyers. Rights groups have documented dozens of cases of forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, and say detainees have been tortured to death inside Houthi-run facilities.

Yemen’s war erupted in 2014, when the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. Months later, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition intervened to oust the rebels and restore Hadi’s government.

Yemen’s conflict has killed over 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.