Hussain Hubail is an award-winning freelance photographer whose work has been published by Agence France-Presse, Voice of America and various other news outlets. His work includes photographs of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. In May 2013, independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a prize for his photograph of protesters running through a cloud of tear gas. Mr. Hubail turned 22 at the end of October 2013.
Mr. Hubail was arrested on 31 July 2013 at Bahrain International Airport where he was due to board a flight to Dubai. He was taken to the Criminal Investigatory Directorate (CID) for interrogation, however, when the family inquired as to his whereabouts, authorities denied having him in custody. On 3 August 2013, he was transferred to the Dry Dock Detention Centre, where his family visited him for the first time on 7 August 2013, a week after his arrest. He told them that he had been beaten with plastic hosing, kicked and threatened by Officer Bassam Mohammed Al-Muraaaj, who stated that he could do anything and everything to him.
Mr. Hubail also reported being forced to listen to the torture of Mohammad Hassan, a well-known blogger who was detained with him. During his four days at the CID, Mr. Hubail was also prevented from sitting or sleeping and was denied food. After allegedly being tortured and threatened, he confessed to the accusations made against him and signed papers which he was prevented from reading.
Mr. Hubail suffers from a heart condition which has worsened since his detention. He requested medical attention from prison authorities while experiencing a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath, but was not taken to Salmaniyya Hospital until two weeks later. The hospital asked that he be returned for follow up but this did not happen. The prison clinic provides Mr. Hubail with medication, but he reports that he does not know what medication he is being given and that it is being given to him on a random basis.
On 28 November 2013, Mr. Hubail appeared in court for the first time to face the same charges as Mr. Hassan: calling for illegal gatherings, inciting hatred against the regime, inciting people to ignore the law and misuse of social media. At the hearing, he told the judge that he had been tortured and denied medical treatment. The judge ordered that he be provided with proper health care, which continues to be denied. Mr. Hubail was convicted on 28 April 2014 and sentenced to 5 years in prison. He remains detained in an overcrowded cell at the Dry Dock Detention Centre and is only permitted visits from his family once a week. The court date for his appeal is scheduled for 22 June 2014.
With less than three weeks left before his appeal date, ADHRB is asking all supporters of free speech and free press to use our template to write a letter to their member of Congress expressing their concern about photographer Hussain Hubail. Please use the following websites to find the contact information for your Representative and Senator.