3 citizen journalists arrested in 3 days

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The Bahrain government has cracked down harshly on freedom of expression since the start of the uprising in February 2011. Reporters Without Borders currently rank Bahrain in the bottom 15 of countries for "press freedom". Similarly, Freedom House ranks Bahrain's press status as "not free". This week, in the wake of the National Assembly recommendations, a prominent blogger and two photographers were arrested. Their charges are not yet known. Speaking on August 1st, following two of the arrests, Sherif Mansour from the Committee to Project Journalists said: "Bahraini authorities have a record of suppressing critical news and commentary, which has had the effect of obscuring the extent of the country's unrest from the rest of the world."
Left to right: Mohamed Hassan, Hussain Hubail and Qassim Zainaldeen


Mohamed Hasan

Mohamed, 28, was a prominent peaceful activist, as well as a blogger and a media fixer, who had worked with the Dan Rather team and the Sunday Telegraph amongst others. Last year, whilst working with journalists, he was arrested and beaten. Human Rights First documented the case in a report. In June 2012, he was summoned for questioning and accused of "writing for websites and newspapers without a license, illegal gathering and tweeting". He stopped blogging and tweeting in April this year.

At around 3am on July 31st, masked men arrested Mohamed Hassan from his home. His house was searched and all his electronic devices were taken. That evening, his family received a very brief phone call from Mohamed. He said that he would be transfered to dry dock prison. His family went to dry dock prison on August 1st but they denied having him. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights considered him subject to "enforced disappearance". In the evening of August 3rd, activist Ala'a Shehabi reported that Mohamed had been seen in dry dock prison "with physical signs of torture after 4 days of interrogation". Under current Bahraini law, all detainees must be presented to the Public Prosecutor within 48 hours of their arrest. There is no evidence that this has happened.

Hussain Hubail

Hussain is an award winning photojournalist, and a close friend of Mohamed's. Less than three months ago, he received 1st place in a photography contest held by Alwasat newspaper.

Hussain was arrested from Bahrain airport in the evening of July 31st. He had been planning to travel to Dubai. His brother contacted the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) on August 1st, but they “denied having him”. BCHR also considered him subject to "enforced disappearance". On August 3rd, Hussain's family finally received a very brief phone call from him. He told them that he was at CID.

BCHR believes that Hussain was "targeted because of his work as a photojournalist". They have also received information "that a photo in which Hussain appeared covering one of the opposition societies rallies, was shown to detainees in the past months at the CID and the interrogators were trying to find the identity of the photographer in that photo."

Qassim Zainaldeen

Qassim was arrested from his home on August 2nd. His whereabouts are currently unknown. BCHR reports:
Qassim Zainaldeen has been arrested by masked men in civilan clothes linked to the security forces on Friday morning 2 Aug 2013 from his house at Duraz after confiscating his computer and mobile. His family went to ask about him at the Budiya police station but they were denied any information about him.

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