Bahrain police detain 2 reporters for foreign media

Mon May 23, 2011

* Obama has criticized crackdown in U.S.-allied Gulf state
* DPA journalist says police handcuffed and beat him

DUBAI, May 23 (Reuters) – Two Bahraini journalists working for Western media were detained and at least one was mistreated by police this week, one of the journalists said on Tuesday.

Mazen Mahdi, who works for the German news agency DPA, said he and a reporter for French television station France 24 were called in for questioning on Sunday.

“They questioned me about my Twitter postings, stories published on DPA, and if I had links to Lebanese or Iranian media,” Mahdi said.

Mahdi said he was held for several hours, handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten about the head until a senior officer arrived to interrogate him.

The Bahraini Information Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment. Bahraini officials have said they would investigate allegations of mistreatment.

U.S.-allied-Bahrain was thrown into turmoil by street protests for democratic reforms in February, put down in March in a government crackdown which included calling in troops from neighboring Gulf Arab countries.

Last week U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the crackdown, saying that “mass arrests and brute force” were at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and would not make legitimate calls for reform disappear.

The authorities say the protesters, mainly from Bahrain’s Shi’ite Muslim majority, were driven by sectarian aims and influenced by Shi’ite power Iran. Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah has also criticized Bahrain over the crackdown.

Hundreds have been detained and four people died in police custody. Two protesters have been sentenced to death for the murder of two policemen during clashes. Four journalists from Bahrain’s only opposition newspaper pleaded not guilty last week to charges of fabricating news about the security forces’ crackdown against protesters.

Source: Reuters.

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