Sayed Ahmed al-Mosawi

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Sayed Ahmed al-Mosawi is a photographer whose work documenting pro-reform protests in Bahrain gained international attention. He was arrested in 2014 and is serving a 10-year sentence for his alleged participation in a terrorist cell. He was also stripped of his Bahraini citizenship.

Al-Mosawi was detained on February 10, 2014, during a raid by authorities to arrest his brother, Mohammed al-Mosawi, according to news reports and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Security forces spotted al-Mosawi’s camera in the apartment and asked who it belonged to, someone who spoke with al-Mosawi after his arrest and who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told CPJ. After conferring over the radio, security forces arrested al-Mosawi as well. The freelance photographer was transferred to Dry Dock jail after being questioned about his work, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Al-Mosawi’s internationally recognized photographs, most of which he posted on social networking sites, have won several awards, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. His work includes subjects such as wildlife and daily life in Bahrain in addition to anti-government protests.

The journalist told his family in a phone call from prison in 2014 that he had been beaten and given electric shocks, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

On November 23, 2015, al-Mosawi, his brother, and 11 other defendants were found guilty of participating in a terror organization that committed acts of violence against police forces, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ in 2016. The court sentenced al-Mosawi to 10 years’ imprisonment and revoked his citizenship.

According to the prosecution, al-Mosawi and other employees at VIVA, a cell phone provider where he also worked, helped other defendants illegally procure SIM cards under false identities for terror purposes.

On June 13, 2016, the public prosecutor announced that an appeals court had upheld al-Mosawi’s sentence. U.S.-based human rights group Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain reported in April 2018 that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation overturned al-Mosawi’s sentence in 2017 after he appealed the verdict, which led to a new appeal process, but al-Mosawi remained behind bars during the process.

On March 27, 2018, the Bahraini Court of Appeal once again confirmed the ruling, sentencing al-Mosawi to 10 years in prison and stripping him of his citizenship, according to the independent Bahraini publication the Bahrain Mirror which cited the Bahrain Press Association, and a journalist in touch with his family who requested anonymity for security reasons. The journalist told CPJ in October 2019 that al-Mosawi had exhausted his appeal options.

Al-Mosawi is detained in Jaw Prison. The journalist familiar with his case told CPJ in late 2017 that al-Mosawi’s health was suffering in prison but did not provide further details. 

As of September 2021, the journalist familiar with al-Mosawi’s case told CPJ that he was not suffering from any health issues. The journalist said al-Mosawi has weekly video calls with his family from prison. 

In September 2021, CPJ emailed the Bahrain Ministry of Interior’s media center asking for comment about the health and treatment behind bars of al-Mosawi and other imprisoned journalists, but did not receive a response.