White House slams release of Yemeni journalist accused of terror ties

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Al-Shai was pardoned by then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh soon after his conviction after an outcry from tribal elders and international advocacy groups. Saleh reversed himself after a February 2011 phone call with Obama, however.

“The President ... told President Saleh that it is imperative that Yemen take forceful action against Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to protect innocent lives in Yemen as well as abroad,” the White House said in a readout of the call at the time. “Finally, President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai, who had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP. President Saleh thanked the President for U.S. support and committed to continuing and strengthening relations with the United States.”

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