National Press Club Awardee Held for Past 18 Months in Bahrain

30 July 2014 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Freedom House, Human Rights First, Just Foreign Policy, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and Reporters Without Borders call for the release of the internationally-known Bahraini photographer Ahmed Humaidan, who is to receive the National Press Club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award “in absentia” in Washington, D.C. this evening. He has been held since 29 December 2012 in Bahrain.

Humaidan was sentenced on 26 March 26 2014 to ten years in prison for supposedly participating in an attack on a police station in Sitra on 8 April 2012. A court is due to rule on his appeal on 25 August.

He told his family and his lawyer that his interrogators subjected him to psychological torture and threatened to kill him. His lawyer has repeatedly requested an independent investigation into his client’s allegations of torture. He has also asked the prison authorities to let his client be examined by a doctor.

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists and defends through its Press Freedom Committee the rights of reporters and fights for transparency worldwide.

The National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award is presented at a gala dinner every year to two journalists – one American and one foreign – who have demonstrated through their work the principles of press freedom and open government.

Announcing this year’s winners, NPC president Myron Belkind said: “Ahmed Humaidan is a photojournalist, not a criminal. The authorities in Bahrain need to free him and the other reporters who have been jailed there for the ’crime’ of doing their jobs.”

Twelve news providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Six of them are serving long jail sentences. Two others are being prosecuted. And many more have sought asylum abroad. By arbitrarily arresting news providers and peaceful civil society activists, the Bahraini authorities are trying to stifle all dissent in the kingdom.

The six organizations that have signed this letter call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Humaidan and all the other news providers who are being held in connection with their work in Bahrain.