Foreign journalists face continued harassment and restrictions by Bahrain authorities
Photo: National Guard arrest Wall Street Journal reporter March 16, 2011
July 6, 2011 Bahrain Center for Human Rights
(Manama) Authorities in Bahrain briefly detained two foreign journalists on Sunday, in what is the latest case of harassment of representatives of international media outlets in the country since the eruption of pro-democracy protests in February.
Nathalie Gillet, a correspondent for France 24 TV, and Bradley Hope, a correspondent for The National newspaper, were detained by Bahrain police officials at 4pm on Sunday while they were walking on the street in Manama, where a protest was planned. They were taken to a police station near the village of Sanabis, where they were questioned and the recorded video and photographs of Gillet were downloaded and inspected by police officials. After a brief meeting with a senior officer, the pair was eventually released after being held for two hours. It doesn’t seem there was any reason for their detention at all, but to prevent them from covering the planned protest or the possible police reaction.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights deplores the Bahrain authorities’ continued harassment and placement of restrictions on internationally recognized journalists in the country.
“Alongside the Bahraini authorities campaign of violence and abuse in this Saudi-backed crackdown, there has been a consistent campaign to harass, reign in, or stamp out independent media reports,” said Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
“Members of the international media are being targeted for conveying to the rest of the world the truth about the widescale human rights abuses that are taking place in Bahrain.”
Since the start of the pro-democracy protests in February and the subsequent government crackdown, at least four international journalists have been physically attacked, at least five have been detained by authorities at some point, four others have been expelled from the country, and at least four have been denied entry at Bahrain airport (see details at the end).
In one specific case in March, riot police fired rubber bullets at the vehicle of CBS reporter Toula Vlahou while she was inside it, and later destroyed the car. An online video shows the response of Bahrain’s foreign minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, to the incident after Vlahou brought it up during a press conference.
The harassment of international journalists is in addition to scores of local media professionals in Bahrain who have been detained, fired, prosecuted or deported since February (see details and full list here).
“We call on the authorities in Bahrain to stop interfering in the work of international journalists, and abide by their declarations of commitments to human rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” said Nabeel Rajab.
“We also demand fair and unbiased independent investigations into the security officials responsible for incidents of attacks on media representatives. Those found responsible should be held accountable for their actions in a court that meets international standards for fair trials.”
Bahrain's king has been listed as Press 'predator' by Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last May, and Bahrain has been categorized as "Not Free" in the Freedom of the Press report 2011 issues by the Freedom House.
Below is a list of cases in which representatives of international media outlets have been harassed or prevented from working in the country since February.
Miguel Marquez, ABC News - Beaten by police (Feb 17, 2011):
- AFP: US reporter beaten covering Bahrain unrest
- ABC News: ABC's Miguel Marquez Beaten in Bahrain (audio recording of attack)
Toula Vlahou, CBS News - Attacked by riot police with rubber bullets, vehicle destroyed (March 17, 2011):
- CBS News: Bahrain clashes: 'Riot police showed no mercy'
- Video: Bahrain Foreign Minister responds to Vlahou about incident
Mazen Mahdi, DPA, and Nazeeha Saeed, France 24 - Physically abused in custody (May 22, 2011):
- France 24 correspondent tortured for covering pro-democracy demonstrations
- Bahrain police detain 2 reporters for foreign media
- Bahrain police detain DPA reporter
Mazen Mahdi, DPA, briefly arrested while taking photos of thugs attacking and destroying shops in Riffa, (March 11, 2011)
Twitter @mazenmahdi: “Police is apparently arresting me for taking pics in a jawad outlet great job guys :) ..”
Alex Delmar-Morgan, Wall Street Journal - Arrested by National Guard (March 16, 2011):
- Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Delmar-Morgan arrested
- WSJ’s Alex Delmar-Morgan Arrested in Bahrain
Amber Lyon and crew, CNN - Arrested, interrogated, footage erased (March 30, 2011):
Bradley Hope, The National, and Nathalie Gillet, France 24 TV - Arrested, footage inspected (July 3, 2011):
- Twitter @bradleyhope: “inside the police station near Sanabis in #Bahrain. Detained since 4 p.m for walking on street...”
- Twitter @nat_gillet: “Just freed from police station in Bahrain with reporter @bradleyhope. Kept there for 2 hours. They checked my camera...”
Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN - Expelled (March 16, 2011):
- CPJ: Bahrain expels CNN reporter, detains WSJ correspondent
- CNN (video): Bahrain Fires on Protesters
Johnny Miller, Press TV (Iran) - Expelled (March 19, 2011):
- Press TV: Press TV reporter tells Bahrain ordeal
- Press TV (video): Press TV journalist deported from Bahrain
Frederik Richter, Reuters - Expelled (May 10, 2011):
- Reuters: Bahrain expels Reuters correspondent
- Reuters: Witness - Expelled from Bahrain, a nation now in fear
Finian Cunningham, Irish Times - Expelled (June 19, 2011):
Bilal Randeree, Al Jazeera - Denied entry at Bahrain airport (Feb 17, 2011):
- Twitter @bilalr: “I arrived@ #Manama airport this morn- was told by immigration that no more visa on arrival for #aljazeera ppl- returnin to #Doha soon”
Omar Chatriwala, Freelance journalist - Denied entry at Bahrain airport (March 17, 2011):
- Storify: Denied entry to Bahrain
Soraya Lennie, Al Jazeera - Denied entry at Bahrain airport (April 21, 2011):
- Twitter @pizzazzgabor: “being deported from #bahrain with another guy who lives in Doha”
Monica G. Prieto, El Mundo - Denied entry at Bahrain airport (May 09, 2011):