Detainees released from UAE-run Yemeni 'torture' prison

Detainees released from UAE-run Yemeni 'torture' prison
Yemeni comedian Nasser al-Anbari and at least three others were released from detention from UAE-controlled prison.
3 min read
26 June, 2018
UAE-run prisons in Yemen are notorious for torture [Getty]

Family and friends of a Yemeni actor celebrated after he and at least three other detainees were freed from prisons controlled by the United Arab Emirates in southern Yemen where they had been held without charges for nearly a year.

Nasser al-Anbari, a well-known comedian who appeared in TV shows and online videos, grinned and waved on Monday as he walked among the well-wishers in the southern city of Aden and motorists honked their car horns, a video filmed by his family shows.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. I was filming him while in disbelief," said one of Anbari's sons. When Anbari met with his wife, who has cancer, "the two wept," the son said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.

His release on Monday came days after The Associated Press revealed that hundreds of Yemeni prisoners swept up in anti-terror raids by Emirati-backed forces have been subjected to torture and sexual abuse while in detention.

Drawings smuggled out of Aden's Beir Ahmed prison, where Anbari was held, show a man hanging naked from chains while he is being subjected to electric shocks, another inmate on the floor surrounded by snarling dogs as several people kick him, and graphic depictions of anal rape.

At least three others were also freed from various Emirati-linked facilities. One was an elder called Mahmoud al-Baydani, who used to work for the International Committee of the Red Cross to help mediate releases of hostages held by al-Qaeda. He had been held at Beir Ahmed and another UAE-controlled prison in Buriqa. One of the others was held in a lockup in the house of Aden's Emirati-backed security chief Shalal Shaye.

A brother of one of the newly released detainees said that "he was freed all of a sudden without notifying the family in advance". The brother said the family found out about his release when he arrived at the house, half an hour later.

A state prosecutor, Mohammed Ali Saleh, declined to say how many detainees were freed on Monday.

Security officials said that more prisoners are expected to be released in the coming days from different secret prisons in Aden.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to speak to the media.

UAE denied that it controls any prisons in Yemen and said that Yemen's government is in full control.

Yemeni Interior Minister Ahmed al-Maysari has said on previous occasions that he has no control over the prisons and he can't enter Aden without the Emiratis' permission.

The UAE is a key US ally whose secret prisons, where torture is said to be widespread, were first reported in an AP investigation last June. The AP has since identified at least five prisons where security forces use sexual torture to brutalise and break inmates.