February 17, 2016
MANAMA, Bahrain - Four US journalists arrested in Bahrain while covering the anniversary of the island nation's 2011 uprising were charged, released and flew out of the country Tuesday, a lawyer said.
Despite charging them, Bahraini officials allowed them to head for the airport, apparently after the intervention of the U.S. Embassy in Manama. Bahrain is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf and surrounding waterways crucial to the global oil trade.
But their arrest and charges highlight the sensitivity the kingdom still feels five years after the uprising, as low-level unrest and protests continue.
The journalists left a police station after meeting with prosecutors and headed straight for Bahrain International Airport, which they flew out of Tuesday night, lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi told The Associated Press. Authorities kept their cameras and computers, al-Jishi said.
The reporters had been held since their arrests Sunday while covering protests in Sitra, a Shiite community outside of the capital, Manama.
Bahrain police initially said they detained the four Americans on Sunday for providing "false information that they were tourists" and also alleged that one took part in an attack on Bahraini officers.
In a statement Tuesday, Manama's chief prosecutor Nawaf al-Awadi said the journalists' possession of cameras and computers sparked their investigation. It said the journalists were freed "pending the completion of the investigation."
Only one of the four journalists has been identified so far, freelancer Anna Therese Day of Boise, Idaho. - AP
The Express Tribune, January 13, 2017