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February 3, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

RSF calls for release of photographer arrested after appeal court ruling


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a Manama appeal court decision today upholding internationally-known photographer Ahmed Al Fardan’s three-month jail sentence and his arrest after the hearing to begin serving the sentence.

The sentence was originally imposed nearly a year ago, on 17 February 2015, when Fardan was convicted of “trying to participate in an illegal demonstration,” a charge brought against him following his arrest in December 2013.

RSF regards today’s appeal court decision and arrest as arbitrary and demands his immediate and unconditional release.

We also call on the Bahraini authorities to stop such practices, which are designed to intimidate independent journalists, and to free all journalists held on trumped-up charges,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Journalists in Bahrain are persecuted by the regime.

Fardan’s lawyer, Mohamed Mehdi, told RSF that his client was shocked by the appeal court’s decision, especially as he recently married and has been working for the past year for Gulf Daily News, a local paper. Mehdi has decided to ask for the sentence to be commuted to community service or a fine.

Fardan worked for the Nurphoto, Demotex and Sipa photo agencies when he was arrested at his home in Abu Saiba, in western Manama, at 3 a.m. on 26 December 2013 and, according to the information obtained by RSF, was beaten at the time of his arrest. He was freed two weeks later on bail of 100 dinars (245 euros) pending trial.

That was not his first run-in with the authorities. He had already been arrested in a café in August 2013 for covering demonstrations in Manama. On that occasion, he was released after a few hours.

A total of 12 professional and non-professional journalists are currently detained in Bahrain, which is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.