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Blogger and photographer tortured, lawyer held for tweeting about it

In a further attack on free speech, the Bahrain authorities have detained and tortured blogger Mohammad Hassan Sudayf and photographer Hussain Hubail, apparently for sharing information on social networks.

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Update, Friday 11 October
Mohammad Hassan Sudayf was released on bail on 4 October. His lawyer, 'Abdul-'Aziz Moussa, had been released on bail on 21 August. Their trials are underway. Photographer Hussain Hubail is still in detention.

Please continue to call Hussain's release and for the charges against all the men to be dropped using our updated urgent action casesheet

They have also arrested one of the men’s lawyers after he tweeted that he had seen signs Mohammad Hassan Sudayf had been tortured, along with details of the charges against the two men, which include ‘inciting hatred against the regime’.

With people set to take to the streets of Bahrain in protest again today (14 August), it is vital that we use the same tools the authorities are cracking down on to alert the world to the treatment being meted out to Mohammad Hassan Sudayf, ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Moussa, Hussain Hubail and others using social media and peaceful gatherings to express themselves.

This action is now closed - thank you to everyone who texted in. You can continue to take action on this case by writing your own emails and letters, using our urgent action casesheet. Details of how to write your own letter

Arrested, interrogated, tortured

In the early hours of 31 July, blogger and translator Mohammad Hassan Sudayf, aged 26, was arrested (without an arrest warrant) at his parents’ house in Sitra.

The same day, 23-year-old photographer Hussain Hubail was arrested as he was about to board a flight to Dubai. Both men were initially held  at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) in the capital Manama and denied any contact with the outside world.

As soon as we heard that the two young men had been arrested we feared, based on what we know about the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of prisoners of conscience, that they may be tortured. Events were to prove our fears well-placed.

On 3 August they were transferred to Dry Dock prison, and three days later Mohammad Hassan Sudayf was allowed a visit by his family. He told them that while at CID he had been tortured: he was forced to strip naked and beaten.

On 7 August, again in the early hours of the morning, Mohammad Hassan Sudayf and Hussain Hubail were taken to the Public Prosecution Office where they were interrogated and charged with ‘inciting hatred against the regime’, ‘calling for illegal gatherings’ and ‘being a member of the 14 February media group.'

The last charge relates to a website used by activists to share and document video footage of protests in the country, which began on 14 February 2011 as similar uprisings spread across the Middle East and North Africa region.

On 7 August, Mohammad Hassan Sudayf’s lawyer, ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Moussa, tweeted details of the interrogation, the charges against the two young men, and that he had seen signs of torture on Mohammad Hassan Sudayf’s body. A few hours later, he too was arrested and the Public Prosecution Office ordered him to be detained for a week in relation to the content of his tweets.

This action is now closed - thank you to everyone who texted in. You can continue to take action on this case by writing your own emails and letters, using our urgent action casesheet. Details of how to write your own letter

Free speech silenced

Two years after the uprising began in Bahrain, prisoners of conscience – many of them arrested during the protests - remain behind bars and free speech is severely curtailed.

Despite the setting up of an Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of abuse during the crackdown on protest, the country’s courts seem more interested in toeing the government line that offering justice to people whose rights have been denied.

In the past fortnight alone, the King of Bahrain has issued two emergency decrees, including an amendment to a 1976 law that bans demonstrations, sit-ins and marches in the capital, Manama. Another recommendation submitted to the King on 28 July would make ‘sending false information’ through social networks a crime punishable by imprisonment.

This renewed crackdown on fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly has been prompted by protests planned by opposition groups set to take place in Bahrain today (14 August). We fear the new laws could be used to legitimise state violence against those who take part

Update, Friday 23 August

The authorities are continuing to crackdown on free speech and peaceful protest. We've heard this week that two Grand Prix protestors have been tortured, and that a 13-year-old boy has been arrested on Wednesday.

What will we do with your text?

We will add your name, but not your number, to the following co-signed letter that we will send to the Bahraini authorities.

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammad Hassan Sudayf, Hussain Hubail and ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Moussa if they are being held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for an impartial and independent investigation into the reported torture of Mohammad Hassan Sudayf and to bring those responsible to account;
  • Urging that the three men are protected from torture and other ill-treatment. 

Prefer to write your own letter? You can download the most recent Urgent Action casesheet with details of how to contact the relevant authorities below

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