Four American journalists have been arrested in Bahrain for entering the country as tourists by providing false information and carrying out media activity there without a license. One of the journalists also allegedly took part in attacks on police, according to authorities.
According to a statement by an interior ministry, one of the journalists was spotted “wearing a mask and participating in attacks on police alongside other rioters in Sitra.”
Reporters Without Borders that the arrested journalists included Anna Day and three members of her crew, the Sky News reported. The group urged Bahrain to release Day, who is an award-winning journalist and her US colleagues “rapidly and without harm.”
The US State Department confirmed that it is aware of the arrests but declined to make any further comment, due to privacy concerns.
A police statement published by the official Bahrain News Agency said that the journalists were arrested in the Shia town of Sitra on Sunday during a clash between police and protesters.
“One of them was masked and taking part with a group of saboteurs in Sitra in acts of rioting and sabotage and attacks on security officials,” the statement said, as quoted by the Guardian. “The other three were arrested at a security checkpoint in the same area.”
The police said that they entered the country between 11 and 12 February, posing as tourists and without proper licence for the media activities.
“Some of those arrested had carried out journalistic activities without permission from concerned authorities, in addition to carrying out illegal acts,’ the police statement said.
The Spokesman for Day’s family said all four were committed journalists and denied any wrongdoings on their part.
“The allegation that they were in any way involved in illegal behaviour or anything other than journalistic activities is impossible,” the spokesman said in a statement.