BahrainMiddle East

Media watchdog denounces Bahrain’s prosecution of journalist



Reporters Without Borders has strongly censured Bahrain’s prosecution of a female journalist after the Manama regime accused her of working for foreign media without permission.

On Wednesday, the Middle East chief of the world’s leading press advocacy body, known by its French acronym RSF, described the charge against Nazeeha Saeed, a Bahraini correspondent working for the France 24 news channel and Paris-based Radio Monte-Carlo Doualiya, as politically motivated.

Alexandra al-Khazen also urged the Persian Gulf kingdom to lift a travel ban on the journalist.

“We call on the authorities to stop hounding this Bahraini journalist and to let her continue working in a fully legal manner,” Khazen said, adding, “We condemn the authorities’ attempts to prevent her working, firstly by imposing an unjustified and incomprehensible travel ban on her and then by accusing her of working illegally although her papers were always in order.”

Bahrain’s prosecutor on Sunday charged Saeed with “working illegally for international media.” This came two weeks after she was banned from traveling overseas.

According to the Paris-based media rights group, Saeed attempted to renew her authorization when it expired in March but was told last month that her application had been rejected.

The journalist has also been in trouble with the Bahraini authorities in the past over her coverage in 2011 of the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

In October 2012, a Bahraini court acquitted a female police officer accused by Saeed of torturing her while she was briefly in custody. Saeed said at the time that she was humiliated and badly beaten by several policewomen.

In November last year, Bahraini regime sentenced a freelance photographer identified as Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi to 10 years in prison and stripped him of his citizenship over “terrorism” charges. Mousawi was accused by a court of giving SIM cards to protesters and taking photos of demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalifah regime.

RSF had denounced the regime’s treatment of Mousawi as “outrageous”.

Bahraini protesters run for cover from tear gas during clashes with police in the village of Sitra, near the capital, Manama, on January 29, 2016. ©AFP

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in the streets of the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful rallies.

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