Washington, February 9, 2016--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned Bahrain's imprisonment of photographer Ahmed al-Fardan. A Bahraini appeals court on February 3 upheld the photojournalist's three-month prison sentence on charges of participating in an unlicensed protest, according to his lawyer and news reports.
"Ahmed al-Fardan is paying a heavy price for simply doing his job as a photographer," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. "We call on Bahraini authorities to stop trying to suppress information by throwing journalists into jail."
Al-Fardan was first arrested at a December 2013 protest and released two weeks later, pending trial, according to news reports. He remained free pending appeal after a court in February 2015 convicted him of participating in an illegal gathering‑‑‑a charge he denied in court, according to news reports. He was taken into custody to begin serving his prison term after the verdict from the appeals court, according to news reports.
While awaiting his appeal, al-Fardan covered January 2016 protests in Bahrain after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Al-Fardan's photos appeared in international and local media, including local daily Gulf Daily News, the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), and other agencies.
The decision to jail al-Fardan is the latest in a series of moves threatening the independence of the press. On January 6, Bahraini prosecutors accused Al-Wasat reporter Mahmoud al-Jaziri of supporting terrorism, among other charges. Bahrain was holding at least five journalists behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The text has been modified to reflect the correct prison term.