Thursday, April 16, 2009

Authorities question critical journalist and his family, confiscate books and other materials

Authorities question critical journalist and his family, confiscate books and other materials

Country/Topic: Bahrain
Date: 15 April 2009
Source: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Person(s): Abbas Al-Murshid
Target(s): journalist(s) , writer(s)
Type(s) of violation(s): harassed , questioned , seized
Urgency: Threat

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has learned that Mr. Abbas Al-Murshid, 31, a journalist and writer, was recently held with his wife and their child for almost four hours at the King Fahad Causeway port. Al-Murshid was returning from a visit to Saudi Arabia when his passports were held by the Immigration Office. He and his family were escorted by a member of National Security Apparatus (NSA, Intelligence Apparatus) to a nearby room used for inspection. His mobile telephone, as well as that of his wife, were forcibly confiscated after he tried to call a friend to advise them of his situation.

Al-Murshid's wife was meticulously questioned and his laptop was taken for inspection but Al-Murshid refused to furnish the access password without a judicial warrant. He was threatened with an all-night detention and because of the pressing situation due to the presence of his wife and child, he finally agreed to surrender his video camera and turn on his laptop, but in his presence. For an hour, the content of Al-Murshid's laptop, which included his wife and family's personal pictures, was browsed by NSA members, an act he objected to. The NSA members copied many files from Al-Murshid's laptop on a flash memory stick.
Al-Murshid's car was thoroughly inspected, resulting in the confiscation of books on the history and politics of Bahrain (third volume of "The Gulf Guide" by Lorimer, "The Portuguese Colonialism", "Models of Democracy" as well as his personal diary). He was told that he will be called up after the authorities have examined the books.

Al-Murshid is a well-known columnist commenting on many public issues considered subversive or sensitive. He writes for the "Al-Waqt" newspaper, but also publishes his articles in electronic public forums, attracting a noticeable turnout and readership. His distinguished popular publications are on what is locally dubbed the "Bandergate" documents.
On 27 January 2009, he was attacked by special forces and hit by a rubber bullet in the right eye while he was walking out of a social center close to his house.


Send appeals to the authorities urging them to:- stop harassing journalists and writers for expressing their views on public affairs and issues- amend or abolish all legislation which prosecutes journalists and writers who exercise their duty to document, report and analyse public issues- return the confiscated books to Al-Murshid and ensure that no reprisals are carried out against him as a result of his publications on public affairs


King Hamad bin Isa Al-KhalifaKing of Bahrain
Sh Khalifa bin Salman Al-KhalifaCabinet Prime MinisterFax: +97 3 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.