ADEN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Yemeni authorities have prevented a local newspaper linked to southern separatists from being printed at a government-owned press in Aden, editors said on Sunday, in a move that led to a protest in the port city.
The Aden al-Ghad newspaper said officials at the 14 October Printing and Publishing house refused to print its Sunday edition on Saturday night, saying they were implementing instructions from senior officials in the capital.
A government source in Sanaa said the move was part of an attempt by the government to restore order to the publishing sector and printing could resume once the newspaper's owners had obtained a license to publish from the Information Ministry.
Aden al-Ghad reflects the views of Southern Herak, the main group demanding the restoration of the state that merged with North Yemen in 1990.
The newspaper, which began publishing after southern activists set up Herak in 2007 to push for independence, said it was licensed by the Information Ministry and had been abiding by journalistic principles since its inception.
It said the move was part of a government campaign against the newspaper, and said its editor had been assaulted hours earlier at a security checkpoint in Aden.
The newspaper said officials had cited its reporting on what it called "peaceful activities by the sons of the south" as a reason to prevent it being printed.
The measure prompted hundreds of people to gather in front of the publishing house demanding the decision be rescinded.
The newspaper, which says it distributes up to 40,000 copies, said its Internet edition had not been affected.
"Aden al-Ghad cannot but express its sincere sorrow for this step which proves beyond doubt that darkness of the scene which awaits the sons of the south in the coming period," the newspaper said on its website.
The government official said licensing procedures were simple and a permit to print could be issued within a few days.
"We have begun to correct the situation," the source, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. "The newspaper will be able to go back to printing as soon as it applies and obtains a license."
Yemeni official leaders, including exiled former South Yemen President Ali Salem al-Beidh and former Prime Minister Abu Bakr al-Attas condemned the move to stop the newspaper going to print. (Reporting by Sami Aboudi in Dubai and Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden; Editing by Sophie Hares)