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Bahraini photographer sentenced to more than 100 years in prison

A Bahraini Shiite girl flashes a victory sign during an anti-government rally in the village of Muqsha, west of Manama, 24 December 2011
A Bahraini Shiite girl flashes a victory sign during an anti-government rally in the village of Muqsha, west of Manama, 24 December 2011

-/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 13 December 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Hassan Mohammed Qambar, a Bahraini freelance photographer who completed his sixth month in detention and condemns the disproportionate nature of the sentences totalling more than 100 years in prison that he has received on a range of absurd charges.

Held since 12 June, Qambar began working as a photojournalist for such international media outlets as Russia Today Arabic and Ruptly in 2011, when he covered that year's uprising and pro-democracy protests.

He has been convicted on such charges as "burning tyres," "causing damage to an electricity tower," "rioting and causing chaos" and "association with a terror organization," but RSF has learned that the interrogations to which he was submitted were all about his work as a photojournalist.

"The many fanciful charges and the disproportionate sentences imposed on Hassan Mohammed Qambar show that the Bahraini justice system tolerates no media coverage that contradicts the official version of events," said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF's Middle East desk. "We call for his immediate release and the quashing of these wrongful convictions because he just did his job as a photojournalist."

Qambar was previously jailed from April 2011 to February 2012 on charges of vandalism and spreading false news. He resumed working as a photojournalist after his release with the result that Bahrain's National Security Agency began searching for him four months later and raided his home for the first time.

The NSA ended up raiding his home more than 60 times during the ensuing six years until he was finally arrested six months ago.

According to RSF's barometer, 15 journalists and citizen-journalists are currently detained in connection with the provision of news and information in Bahrain, which is ranked 166th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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