Bahrain Charges Al-Wasat Journalist with Terrorism

After his arbitrary arrest on 28 December, the Bahraini Interior Ministry named journalist Mahmood al-Jazeeri, a reporter for Al-Wasat News, as among those arrested for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the veracity of which has been questioned by experts. On 31 December, al-Jazeeri’s lawyer told al-Wasat, “prosecutors had not produced any evidence against her client.” His latest report, in which he covered one of the Shura Council’s member’s demand to remove the housing unit of those who have had their citizenship revoked by the authorities, was considered politically sensitive.

Bahraini authorities have detained dozens of journalists, photojournalists, and bloggers on charges related to the exercise of free expression since 2011. This past November, Bahrain sentenced Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, an award-winning photojournalist to ten years in prison and revoked his citizenship on charges of “joining a terror cell” and allegedly tortured him in custody. The Bahraini government’s filing of terror charges against al-Jazeeri and other journalists demonstrates the government’s ongoing repression of free press and is yet another example of the misapplication of the country’s expansive counterterrorism legislation against journalists. Al-Jazeeri’s detention brings the current number of detained journalists in Bahrain to more than 20.