RSF is relieved to learn of the release of the four US journalists who had been detained in Bahrain since 14 February.
After interrogating them this morning, the public prosecutor’s office issued a statement announcing their conditional release pending the outcome of the investigation.
They are charged with participating in an illegal demonstration with a view to causing public order disturbances. As they are not subject to any travel restrictions, they can now leave Bahrain.
In order to censor the reporting of both local and foreign journalists, the Bahraini authorities often accuse them of taking part in illegal demonstrations and attacking members of the security forces.
Freelance reporter Anna Therese Day and her three-member TV crew were arrested in Sitra, south of the capital, Manama, where they had gone to cover activities marking the anniversary of the start of the protests.
They are accused of working as journalists without permission. One of them, who was arrested in the middle of a demonstration, is also charged with illegal behaviour towards the security forces.
“RSF calls on the authorities to release the four detained journalists at once and without conditions,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Ever since the February 2011 protests, it has been difficult for foreign journalists to obtain work visas in the run-up to their anniversary. The authorities hope to control the situation by keeping the number of unwanted witnesses of new protests to the minimum.”
The four journalists, who reportedly entered the country on 11 and 12 February, were still being interrogated by prosecutors this morning.
A total of 14 professional and non-professional journalists are currently imprisoned in Bahrain, which is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.