Hubail, a photographer who documented opposition protests, was sentenced to five years in prison on April 28, 2014, on charges of inciting protests against public order, according to news reports. Eight other individuals were sentenced in the same trial, including online activist Jassim al-Nuaimi and artist Sadiq al-Shabani, the reports said.
In January 2016, Hubail was informed that he had been sentenced to an additional year imprisonment on a charge of participating in an illegal gathering, the Bahrain Press Association reported.
Hubail was arrested at Bahrain International Airport and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to Dry Dock prison on August 5, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported.
The arrest came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14, 2013, modeled on the demonstrations that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities.
On August 7, 2013, Hubail was questioned by the public prosecutor, who accused him of incitement against the regime and calling for illegal gatherings. Hubail’s lawyer, Ali al-Asfoor, said in a series of Twitter posts that investigators had questioned Hubail about his photography and purported posts on social media that had called for the protests on August 14.
Hubail’s work has been published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, the independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas.
Hubail said he was tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail told of being beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep. The Bahraini Information Affairs Authority told CPJ on August 28, 2013, that the government was investigating the torture claims. CPJ sent a written request for comment in October 2016 to the Information Affairs Authority asking about the outcome of the investigation. The authority did not respond.
The High Court of Appeals upheld Hubail’s five-year sentence on September 21, 2014, according to news reports.
In April 2015, someone familiar with Hubail’s situation, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told CPJ that the photographer’s health had deteriorated and he had been denied adequate medical care for a heart condition. The journalist is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Hubail lost his prison ID during a riot in March 2016, which meant that he was unable to attend medical appointments until he received a replacement card in May, according to a journalist closely following his case, who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity for security reasons. The journalist said that prison authorities told Hubail he must receive medication for his blood pressure and heart condition without the supervision of a doctor.