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MEANWHILE, IN OTHER DEATH PENALTY NEWS FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE ..
Bloomberg News reported on March 9 (I'm just catching up) that in Yemen, prosecutors are calling for the death penalty for a newspaper editor who published the Danish cartoons.
``I am afraid but I am also hopeful,'' Muhammad al-Asadi of the Yemen Observer said in a telephone interview today from the capital, Sana'a. ``We were against the cartoons and we wanted only to explain about Islam. I hope the judge will see that.''
Al-Asadi was arrested in February and charged under a press law that bans publication of anything that ``prejudices the Islamic faith and its lofty principles, or belittles monotheistic religions or humanitarian creeds.'' He said the prosecution may be motivated by the English-language newspaper's reporting on corruption in the country's embassies. Calls to the Information Ministry, which oversees the media, weren't answered.
The story goes on to explain some interesting facts about Yemen, where, you may recall, a top al Qaeda operative recently escaped from prison. That man, Jamal Badawi, did not get the death penalty, and was thus serving since a sentence for the comparatively minor infraction of bombing the U.S.S. Cole (killing 17 American sailors) in October 2000.
The Yemeni editor who published the cartoons, it seems, spent nearly two weeks in a special prison Yemen has under the stewardship of something called its "Prosecutor for the Press." Apparently the editor is not alone -- three other Yemeni journalists also have been jailed for reprinting the cartoons.
The legal argument and reliance on precedent in the editor's case were also noteworthy for all you you up-and-coming lawyers out there:
As many as 21 Yemeni prosecution lawyers asked for the death penalty in yesterday's proceedings, arguing a precedent was set during Muhammad's lifetime, according to al-Asadi. He said the lawyers recounted a story in which the prophet praised one of his companions for killing a woman who had insulted him.... The prosecution, commissioned by the head of a legislative committee, also called for the confiscation of the newspaper's property and assets, and for compensation, al-Asadi said.
After a meeting a few months ago between Secretary of State Rice and high-ranking Yemeni officials, the State Department heaped praise on Yemen for its strong alliance with the U.S. Still, Sec'y Rice's spokesman conceded: "There are some areas where we think it needs more work, particularly with respect for freedom of the press and fighting corruption and I think we've made that point. And I think we also expressed the close friendship and close partnership that we feel between the two countries."