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Two journalists arrested, questioned, briefly detained by police following ban of rally

(BCHR/IFEX) - The following is a statement from BCHR, an interim member of IFEX:

On 1 July 2007, Ms. Zainab Abdulnabi, aged 24, Isa-Town reporter for the Al-Aalam television news channel, along with her cameraman Mr. Seyed Ali Al-Najjar, aged 20, from Hamad Town, were arrested and interrogated only to be released after signing a statement.

Their arrest followed the forcible closure by authorities of an area near the United Nations building in Manama, the Bahraini capital, in order to prevent the staging of a planned protest. Civil and human rights activists planned to protest the presentation, by United Nations Human Settlements Programme, of an "Achievements in Human Settlements" award to the Bahraini Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has been in power for 37 years, is known for corruption and is considered to be responsible for torture and human rights violations.

According to Ms. Abdulnabi, they were close to the United Nations building when they were approached by a white car, in which there were several men in civilian clothes. A police jeep was called and Ms. Abdelnabi was asked to get in, in order to be taken to the Hoora Police Station, a demand she refused bluntly as she objected to being treated like a criminal. The officer took her press identification card confiscated her camera and demanded that she follow them in her own car. At the station, both the reporter and the cameraman were subjected to interrogation and were released later that night; the camera was also returned.

The BCHR is even more worried about the authorities' treatment of activists now that reporters are also being treated so abusively. The BCHR calls upon the Bahraini authorities to respect basic human rights and to guarantee the safety of reporters and activists who practice their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

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