Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns freelance journalist and blogger Ahmed Radhi’s arrest in a pre-dawn raid on his home on 16 May.
“The Bahraini authorities have committed a grave freedom of information violation, resuming the practices adopted to crush last year’s wave of protests,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It seems that Radhi’s only crime was to have expressed his views. In the absence of any charges against him, we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
Police broke down the door of his home in Sanabis, a locality to the west of the capital, at around 4 a.m. and took Radhi away without showing any warrant. The authorities have not announced any charges but Reporters Without Borders has been told that he could be brought before a judge as early as tomorrow.
His family thinks he was arrested for criticizing a proposed union of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in interviews he gave to BBC Arabic Radio and the London-based exile television station, Lulu TV. Radhi had posted excerpts of the BBC Arabic interview on Facebook.
Aged 35, Radhi has had many run-ins with the authorities in the past. The Bahrain Press Association said he was jailed and tortured at the end of the 1990s, suffering a permanent partial hearing loss.
In the early 2000s, he worked for the local daily Al-Ayyam and the Lebanese TV station Al-Manar, whose coverage angered the government so much that his accreditation was withdrawn for two years. Since then he has freelanced and keeps a blog on Bahrain.
Journalists are often the target of harassment and arrests in Bahrain, whose ruler, King Hamad Ben Aissa Al-Khalifa, is on the Reporters Without Borders list of predators of press freedom. Last year, Reporters Without Borders ranked Manama as one of the world’s ten most dangerous places for media personnel.