SHAFAQNA – The media rights groups Reporters Without Borders has called on Bahrain’s Al Khalifah regime to abandon the trial of female journalist Nazeeha Saeed.
“We reiterate our support for Saeed and urge the authorities to immediately drop the charges against her so that she can work freely as a journalist again,” Director General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Christophe Deloire said.
Deloire described the persecution of the journalist as “unwarranted,” adding that it confirmed that “the kingdom’s authorities are bent on silencing independent media voices.”
Reporters Without Borders is an international organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and press.
Meanwhile, a public French broadcaster also called on the Manama regime to halt Saeed’s persecution.
“We welcome the supportive campaigning by international media freedom NGOs such as RSF since last July, and we ask the Bahraini authorities to cancel these groundless proceedings against Nazeeha Saeed and let her resume her job of freely reporting the news in her country as soon as possible,” said Marie-Christine Saragosse, the president of France Médias Monde (FMM).
Bahrain’s Public Prosecution has set January 16 as the date for the hearing of the Bahraini correspondent, who works for France 24 television news network and Paris-based Radio Monte-Carlo Doualiya.
Saeed was called to the public prosecutor’s office on July 17 last year, and was charged with “working for foreign media outlets without a permit.”
This came two weeks after Bahraini officials imposed a travel ban on her. She learned about the ban on June 29, 2016 after she was prevented from boarding a flight.
Saeed’s license expired last March but Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) refused to renew it. She faces a fine of up to 1,000 Bahraini dinars ($2,652).
Meanwhile, Saeed’s lawyer, Hameed Mullah, says her client’s conviction would constitute a grave violation of media freedom, noting that he has been trying to gain access to the prosecution case against the correspondent but to no avails.
In May 2011, Saeed was tortured by Bahraini regime forces for reporting on pro-democracy demonstrations in the kingdom. In November 2015, Bahraini authorities decided not to prosecute her torturers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based NGO, says there are five journalists in prison in Bahrain, all of them freelancers.
Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations on an almost daily basis ever since the popular uprising began in Bahrain in February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to silence voices of dissent. Scores of opponents and activists have lost their lives. Hundreds of others have sustained injuries or been arrested.