Sayed Ahmed al-Mosawi

Beats Covered:
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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, 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, a person familiar with the case told CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. After conferring over the radio, security forces arrested al-Mosawi as well. He was transferred to Dry Dock jail after being questioned about his work. 

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. In addition to anti-government protests, his work includes subjects such as wildlife and daily life in Bahrain. 

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. The U.S.-based human rights group Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain reported in March 2018 that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation overturned al-Mosawi’s sentence in 2017 after he appealed the verdict, which led to a new appeals 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.

As of late 2023, al-Mosawi was in Jaw Prison. In August 2023, media outlets reported that inmates in Jaw Prison were participating in a mass hunger strike to protest conditions, though CPJ could not confirm whether al-Mosawi participated in the hunger strike. After 36 days, prisoners suspended the hunger strike following authorities’ pledges to improve conditions. 

CPJ could not confirm whether al-Mosawi had any new court appearances, charges, or what the status of his health is in prison in 2023. 

CPJ emailed the Bahrain Interior Ministry’s press office in late 2023 for comment on al-Mosawi and the cases of other Bahraini journalists in prison but did not immediately receive a response.