Bahrain Arrests Four American Journalists

 In Foreign

Bahrain Arrests Four American Journalists

UPDATE: Feb 16, 2016 – the four journalists held by Bahrain have been released, and are expected to leave the country Tuesday evening.

Sitra, Bahrain, Sunday, February 14

Four American journalists were arrested in Bahrain for having tourist credentials instead of the required media visas, and one of them for participating in a protest as well as attacking officers. The arrests came during a protest that marked the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Bahrain arrests

4 American journalists were arrested when this protest in Bahrain took place on Sunday. Twitter photo via The Straits Times

Journalists

Three men and one woman were detained. One of the arrests was independent journalist Anna Therese Day, an award winning journalist.  The other three were her camera crew. It is not known what media outlet they were working for at the time of their arrest.

The New York Times reported,

On Sunday, police arrested a photographer working with the group, the two witnesses said. Later that night, police surrounded the area with checkpoints and arrested the other three, they said. The witnesses spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for fear of being arrested.

An Interior Ministry statement alleged one of the four journalists “was wearing a mask and participating in attacks on police alongside other rioters in Sitra.” The statement also said the journalists entered the country between Thursday and Friday on tourist visas.

“At least some of the arrestees were in the country as members of the international media but had not registered with the concerned authority and were involved in illegal activities,” the statement said, without elaborating on what those activities were.

Registration required

Bahrain requires all journalists to obtain media visas before working there. Though Americans are allowed to obtain a tourist visa when they arrive in Bahrain, a media visa takes longer. Some media visa requests have been routinely denied by the nation.

Ms. Day was seen speaking with a person who was wearing an Anonymous mask at the protest. Bahrain officials accused one of the group of wearing a mask and attacking police. It is unlikely that Ms. Day or her crew did such a thing.

Bahrain is predominantly Shi’ite, but is ruled by Sunnis, which was the subject of the uprising in 2011. Though the government committed to making changes after Arab Spring, many Shi’ites are unhappy with the speed of change in the small island nation.

Statement of the Frontline Freelance Register calling for the immediate release of the four:

American, independent journalist Anna Therese Day and three members of her camera crew were detained in Bahrain on 14 February while working in the country. They have not yet been released. The four are experienced journalists, having most recently worked on virtual reality documentary filmmaking in Egypt and Gaza, and we hope the Bahraini authorities will release them rapidly and without harm.

Anna Therese Day is an award-winning independent journalist. She is a 2016 Truman National Security Project fellow, 2016 adjunct professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, a 2013 Fulbright Fellow, a 2012 United Nations Press Fellow, and was named one of Google Zeitgeist’s top 30 Great Young Minds of Our Time in 2011. Day is a regular contributor to The New York Times Women in the World. The Shorty Awards for Social Media recognized her as one of the Top 10 journalists of the Year at their 2013 and 2014 awards. Recently, she was named a national finalist for Running Start’s Emerging Young Leader Awards and selected as one of Mic.com’s #Mic50 Millennial Leaders 2015 list. In 2015, Day became a global brand ambassador for Skype’s “The Things We Can Do” English-language campaign. 

Anna has reported from all over the Middle East and north Africa, India, Brazil and Mexico. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, Al Jazeera English, Daily Beast, CBS, Huffington Post, and numerous print outlets, translated into Arabic, English, Hebrew, and Spanish.

A Spokesperson for the family of Ms Day said: “Anna and her crew are committed journalists who only want to ensure they could undertake their profession ethically and thoroughly. The allegation that they were in any way involved in illegal behavior or anything other than journalistic activities is impossible. Anna Day is much loved and missed and we are concerned about her well being as well as that of her three American colleagues. We hope the Bahraini authorities will release all four journalists as soon as possible so they can return home.”

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