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Journalist prosecuted for alleged sedition, slander, false reporting

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has learned that Maryam Al-Shoroogi, a journalist and writer from "Alwasat" newspaper, was summoned on 1 December 2008 by the Public Prosecution (PP) Office on charges of publishing an article which harms unity and introduces discrimination sedition between citizens in Bahrain.

Al-Shoroogi was interrogated by Nawaf Hamza, Head of Public Prosecutions, who decided to postpone the case until summoning the writer's friend to confirm the validity of the information brought up by the journalist in her article.

The interrogation focused on Al-Shoroogi's response to a Civil Service Bureau (CSB) statement, charging Al-Shoroogi with insulting the Bureau when she accused it of using discriminatory practices based on political affiliation. Moreover, the CSB accused Al-Shoroogi of slander and false reporting when she mentioned her experience of employment discrimination by staff of the Bureau when she and her friend were applying for jobs with the CSB.

In a statement to "Alwasat" newspaper, Al-Shoroogi stated that she told the PP: "There is discrimination taking place. I mentioned the details of my own experience when a friend and I applied for posts with the Civil Service Bureau."

Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR, stated that: "Prosecuting the journalist and writer Al-Shoroogi is yet another example of deterioration in the level of freedom of expression and journalism in Bahrain". He continued:"The Bahrain government should stop its systematic practice of sectarian discrimination against the majority indigenous Shia, rather than silencing journalists and writers who are highlighting a way to stop it."

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