RSF condemns politically-motivated charge against correspondent

Reporters Without Borders is outraged to learn that Bahraini journalist Nazeeha Saeed has been charged with working as a correspondent for foreign news media without permission and calls on the authorities to stop harassing her and to allow her to continue working.

The Bahrain correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte-Carlo Doualiya, Nazeeha Saeed went to the prosecutor’s office with her lawyer, Hameed Al Mullah, on 17 July in response to a summons without knowing what awaited her.

It was only after being interrogated that she learned that she was charged with working illegally for international media.

We call on the authorities to stop hounding this Bahraini journalist and to let her continue working in a fully legal manner,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.

We condemn the authorities’ attempts to prevent her working, firstly by imposing an unjustified and incomprehensible travel ban on her and then by accusing her of working illegally although her papers were always in order.”

Saeed is accused of working for international media without the appropriate permit from the information ministry. For the past 12 years, she has had a permit that must be renewed annually. As usual, she applied to renew it when it expired at the end of March but this year she was finally told on 20 June that the renewal had been refused because questions had supposedly been raised about her performance as a correspondent.

Saeed says that this is the first time in 12 years that she has been refused this permit. She is now facing the possibility of a fine of up to 1,000 dinars (2,400 euros).

The charge comes just over two weeks after the authorities prevented Saeed from travelling abroad without giving her any explanation.

Saeed is part of the international #FightImpunity campaign that RSF launched in November 2015 with the aim of pressuring governments to bring those responsible for crimes against journalists to justice.

Saeed has for years been fighting for justice after being tortured and humiliated by policewomen for 13 hours in 2011 in Rifa’a police station, to which she was summoned because of her coverage of pro-democracy demonstrations in Manama.

In November 2015, RSF condemned the justice ministry’s arbitrary decision not to prosecute those responsible for torturing Saeed. The ministry gave insufficient evidence as its grounds.

Around 15 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 19.07.2016