Bahrain detains columnist; 4 located in Libya

New York, April 25, 2011The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bahraini authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Haidar Mohammed al-Nuaimi, a columnist for daily newspaper Al-Wasat. Roughly 30 uniformed and plainclothes police raided al-Nuaimi’s family home in Manama today, dragging him into the street and beating him, local journalists told CPJ. 

Al-Nuaimi was then taken to an unknown location, according to the same accounts. A Facebook page in support of Al-Wasat recounts the same events in Arabic.

On Thursday, Amani al-Muskati, another reporter with Al-Wasat, was detained at the Bahrain International Airport upon her return from Egypt. Al-Muskati was later transferred to a Manama police station for interrogation and then released a few hours later, local journalists told CPJ.

Earlier in April, the authorities accused Al-Wasat of “deliberate news fabrication and falsification.” Since then, the government has announced it will file criminal charges against three of the daily’s senior editors and has deported two other staff members. Karim Fakhrawi, founder and board member of Al-Wasat died in state custody on April 12 under suspicious circumstances. Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, who moderated and wrote for a website that covers news and other developments in his village, also died under suspicious circumstances while in government custody on April 9.

“We are concerned for the safety of Haidar Mohammed al-Nuaimi,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “The Bahraini government must clarify the reasons for his arrest and account immediately for his whereabouts. This is doubly urgent after a publisher and a blogger died in state custody and the authorities failed to convincingly explain the two deaths.”

Elsewhere in the region:

In Libya, American photographer James Foley, who was detained near Brega on April 5, was permitted to call his family on Saturday for the first time since his capture, Global Post reported. He told his mother that he was being treated well and was uninjured, according to the same report. Spanish photographer Manuel Varela, who was detained with Foley, was also able to call his family, his father told CPJ.

Anton Hammerl, a freelance South African photographer and Clare Morgana Gillis, an American freelancer, appeared in government custody on Friday and are apparently in good health, CPJ research shows.

On Sunday, Yemeni security forces surrounded the home of Mohammed al-Lawzi, a reporter for independent daily Akhbar Al-Yawm, according to the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate. Local journalists told CPJ that no one was arrested and that authorities gave no reason for the three-hour-long siege.

Yemeni authorities, in an echo of past arbitrary confiscations, seized shipments of several independent publications. On Friday, Republican Guards confiscated a shipment of unknown size of the independent weekly Al-Shahid, and 8,000 copies of the independent weekly Al-Yaqeen in the southern cities of Aden and Taiz, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate said.