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Bahrain arrests photographer Ahmed Al-Fardan

This photo of an anti-government protester by Ahmed Al-Fardan won first place in Freedom House's annual photo contest in April 2013. (Ahmed Al-Fardan)

New York, December 27, 2013--Ahmed Al-Fardan, photographer for the NurPhoto agency, was arrested Thursday at his home in Bahrain, according to his agency, news reports, and human rights groups. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest.

Al-Fardan's father, Jaber, told local independent daily Al-Wasat that Bahraini security officers stormed their house in the early hours of Thursday morning while they were asleep, handcuffed his son, and took him to an unknown location. Jaber later received a short call from Ahmed, who said he was fine but did not give any details of his whereabouts, according to the report.

Bahraini authorities didn't disclose any charges against Al-Fardan, according Mohammed Al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

Al-Fardan's photos of unrest in Bahrain have appeared in international news outlets and been recognized by human rights groups. Recently, one of his photos won second place in IFEX's international contest to expose impunity as part of the International Day to End Impunity on November 23, 2013.

Al-Fardan is also known for advocating for his fellow photographers. In his last tweet, on Monday, he called for the release of Ahmed Humaidan, another Bahraini photojournalist who has been imprisoned for a year because of his work in documenting protests against Bahraini authorities. Al-Fardan also participated in a demonstration this month calling for Humaidan's release.

"We call on Bahraini authorities to immediately release Ahmed Al-Fardan," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. "Despite paying lip service to the importance of the press, the government continues to try to suppress any information that does not conform to its official narrative."

Al-Maskati of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights told CPJ that this is not the first time Al-Fardan has been targeted because of his work. He was kidnapped in August by men in plain clothes who he suspected of being security forces. They beat and threatened him because of his work covering protests and defending imprisoned photojournalists, according to Al-Maskati.

In its annual census of journalists in prison worldwide, CPJ found three journalists behind bars in Bahrain, including two photographers, Humaidan and Hussein Hubail, who was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport in August 2013 and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to prison.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ's Bahrain page here.

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