U.S. journalists 'safe and in good health' after Bahrain release

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 12:16 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An American journalist said on Wednesday she and the three members of her camera crew were safe and in good health after being released from detention in Bahrain, where they had been accused of participating in an illegal gathering in the U.S.-allied Gulf kingdom.

"My team and I feel very fortunate to have been permitted to leave Bahrain last night," Anna Day, a freelance journalist who has reported for numerous media outlets, said in a statement issued by two journalist colleagues.

Day and her camera crew, all U.S. citizens, were arrested on Sunday and left the country on Tuesday after being charged. According to the statement, they were covering the fifth anniversary of Arab Spring protests in Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based.

"We are safe and in good health, but we are exhausted and keen to get home to see our loved ones," Day said. "We are overwhelmed by the events of the past few days and by the support shown to us from around the world."

Day has reported in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Latin America for numerous media outlets, mostly American.

One of the two journalists who released Day's statement said the group would return to the United State although the timing was unclear.

Separately, the U.S. State Department said in a statement the United States would "continue to raise our concerns with Bahrain about limitations on peaceful assembly and political activism, and the criminalization of free expression." The statement did not specifically mention Day's arrest.

Authorities in Bahrain said the four journalists were found with cameras and computers in Sitra, a Shi'ite village east of the capital Manama, among "a group of saboteurs who were carrying out riot acts." Demonstrators in Sitra have clashed with security forces in recent days.

Day and her crew were the latest among a wave of journalists who have been held overseas, in Iran, Turkey and elsewhere. According to Reporters without Borders, a press advocacy group, 154 journalists are imprisoned around the world and eight have been killed so far in 2016.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham)