New York, March 17, 2011–Bahraini authorities expelled a CNN reporter and briefly detained another international reporter on Wednesday amid an intensified crackdown on political unrest. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Bahraini government’s ongoing obstruction of news media and calls for authorities to allow journalists to cover this story of international import. Elsewhere in the region, anti-press attacks and harassment continued to be reported in Morocco, Yemen, and Libya.
“Governments in Libya, Bahrain, Morocco, and Yemen are obstructing or attacking journalists in an effort to prevent local and international audiences from accessing critical information,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on the authorities in these countries to stop harassing the media and release all detained journalists.”
Bahrain’s Ministry of Information expelled CNN correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom on Wednesday after he had reported on the forcible dispersal of protesters in Manama, the journalist reported on air. “We kept trying to find out why; they would not say. They insisted that I had to go,” Jamjoom reported, saying an information ministry official escorted him to the airport. Other CNN journalists remain in Bahrain, the network said. Also Wednesday, Bahraini soldiers detained Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Delmar-Morgan, the newspaper reported. He was freed after three hours.
Numerous cases of harassment and obstruction have been reported in Bahrain this week after the government invited Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops to help contain demonstrations by the country’s Shiite majority. A crackdown on protests in Manama and the arrests of several opposition leaders have followed.
A local journalist told CPJ that police and military forces blocked access to areas where protesters were being cleared. The journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said mobile telephone service appeared to be interrupted near Pearl Square, a main protest site.
In Libya, the whereabouts of four veteran New York Times reporters remained unknown today. Beirut Bureau Chief Anthony Shadid, reporter Stephen Farrell, and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario were last in contact with the newspaper on Tuesday as they were reporting from the eastern city of Ajdabiya. The Times said it had received secondhand information that the four journalists “had been swept up by Libyan government forces,” but it could not independently confirm the reports.
On Wednesday, Libyan authorities freed Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a correspondent for London’s Guardian, who was detained on March 2 in the coastal town of Sabratha. He had been held in a prison on the outskirts of Tripoli, according to The Guardian. “We are delighted that Ghaith has been released and is safely out of Libya. We are grateful to all those who worked behind the scenes to help free him after his ordeal,” the newspaper quoted its editor, Alan Rusbridger, as saying.
In Yemen, government supporters attacked Adel Abdel Mughni, a correspondent for the UAE-based magazine Al-Shorouq, after he had covered an anti-government demonstration in the capital Sana’a on Tuesday, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate said. The extent of the journalist’s injuries was unclear. In Morocco, uniformed police attacked several journalists covering the violent dispersal of protesters in Casablanca on Sunday. Hanan Rahab, Owsi Mouh Lhasan, and Mohamed al-Adlani, journalists with the private daily Al-Ahdath al-Maghribia, were assaulted, according to news reports. Ahmed Najim and Salah al-Maizi, journalists for the French newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur, were also beaten, news reports said. The nature of the assaults and the extent of their injuries were unclear, although news reports said Rahab was taken to a local hospital.