Annual Prison Census 2013 - Bahrain
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||18 December 2013|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2013 - Bahrain, 18 December 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/52b83bea12.html [accessed 31 August 2016]|
Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2013
Abduljalil Alsingace, freelance
Imprisoned: March 17, 2011
Alsingace, a journalistic blogger and human rights defender, was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent after pro-reform protests swept the country in February 2011.
In June 2011, a military court sentenced Alsingace to life imprisonment for "plotting to topple the monarchy." In all, 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty on similar charges and handed lengthy sentences.
On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy. He was first arrested on anti-state conspiracy charges in August 2010 as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents, but was released in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement.
In September 2012, the High Court of Appeal upheld Alsingace's conviction and life sentence, along with those of his co-defendants. Four months later, on January 7, 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, also upheld the sentences.
Ahmed Humaidan, freelance
Imprisoned: December 29, 2012
Police arrested Humaidan, a freelance photographer, and charged him with "demonstrating illegally" and "using violence to assault police and damage public properties" during protests on the island of Sitra, where he lived, according to news reports.
Humaidan has covered demonstrations since 2011, when thousands of Bahrainis descended into the streets to protest the government. His photographs were published by local opposition sites, including the online newsmagazine Alhadath and the news website Alrasid.
Adel Marzouk, head of the Bahrain Press Association, an independent media freedom organization based in London, told CPJ that Humaidan's photographs had exposed police attacks on protesters during demonstrations. Humaidan's family said authorities had sought his arrest for months and had raided their home five times in an attempt to arrest him, news reports said.
Humaidan's trial, which was delayed repeatedly, was ongoing in late 2013.
Hussein Hubail, freelance
Imprisoned: July 31, 2013
Hubail, a photographer, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to the Dry Dock prison on August 5, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported.
Hubail was detained the same day as a Bahraini blogger, Mohammed Hassan. The arrests came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14 that was modeled after the demonstrations that led to the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad Bin Issa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities.
On August 7, 2013, Hubail and Hassan were interrogated by the public prosecutor who accused them of incitement against the regime and calling for illegal gatherings. Hubail's lawyer, Ali al-Asfoor, said in a series of Twitter posts that investigators had questioned Hubail about his photography and purported posts on social media that had called for the protests on August 14. Al-Asfoor told CPJ that his client faces up to 15 years in prison under the charges.
In a statement from the Bahrain government's Information Affairs Authority to CPJ on August 28, 2013, the Bahraini government accused the journalists of abusing freedom of the press in Bahrain by undertaking "incitement [that] threatens public order and the community's security." The government declined to provide any evidence of the charges, citing the ongoing investigation.
Hubail, who photographs opposition protests in Bahrain, has had his work published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas.
Hubail and Hassan have claimed they were tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail was beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep. The government told CPJ in the statement that it was investigating the torture claims.
Authorities also charged Hassan's lawyer, Abdel Aziz Moussa, with "committing acts of slander and defamation" and "preventing the course of justice by obstructing and hindering the authorities" in connection with the lawyer's August 7, 2013, tweet that said his client showed signs of torture. The government said Moussa had disclosed on Twitter the names of other individuals under investigation in the same case who had not yet been arrested or questioned by the authorities.
No trial date was set in late 2013, al-Asfoor told CPJ.