Fakhrawi, founder and board member of Al-Wasat, the country’s premier independent daily, died in state custody a week after he was detained, according to news reports. Human rights defenders told CPJ that Fakhrawi had gone to a police station on April 5 to complain that authorities were about to bulldoze his house.
Bahrain’s official news agency said on Twitter that Fakhrawi died of kidney
failure. Photographs published online, however, showed a body identified as that of Fakhrawi with extensive cuts and bruises.
The journalist’s arrest came amid sweeping civil unrest in Bahrain
and a government crackdown on independent reporting. In early April, the
government accused Al-Wasat of “deliberate news fabrication and falsification,” said it would file criminal charges against three of the paper’s senior editors, and deported two of its senior staffers.
Fakhrawi was one of numerous investors in Al-Wasat, local journalists told CPJ. He was also a book publisher, the owner of one of Bahrain’s biggest bookstores, and a member of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s chief opposition party.
Fakhrawi’s death was the second media fatality in Bahrain in less than
a week, both occurring in government detention facilities. In the two decades
prior to that, no journalists had died in relation to their work in Bahrain,
CPJ research shows.