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Bahrain Arrests 4 American Journalists

  • VOA News

A police armored vehicle splattered with paint bombs fires tear gas toward Bahraini anti-government protesters during clashes in Sitra, Bahrain, Feb. 14, 2016.

A police armored vehicle splattered with paint bombs fires tear gas toward Bahraini anti-government protesters during clashes in Sitra, Bahrain, Feb. 14, 2016.

Bahrain police have arrested four American journalists covering the anniversary of the tiny island nation's pro-democracy protests that were crushed by authorities five years ago.

A police statement said the four — one woman and three men — entered the country last week, pretending to be tourists. At least some had "carried out journalistic activities without permission from concerned authorities, in addition to carrying out illegal acts," the statement said.

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the "illegal acts." But the state-run Bahrain News Agency quoted police as saying the four "are suspected of offenses including entering Bahrain illegally, having submitted false information to border staff, and participating in an unlawful gathering."

Journalists arrested in Sitra

The journalists, whose identities have not been released, were arrested Sunday in the Shi'ite town of Sitra during clashes between protesters and security forces. Police accused one of the journalists of "wearing a mask and participating in attacks on police alongside other rioters in Sitra."

The Bahrain News Agency said the individuals "have been afforded full rights" while investigations continue. It said the case has been referred to public prosecution.

The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain said it was aware of the arrests but could not comment further.

Protests by the country's majority Shi'ite opposition have persisted since the 2011 uprising, which came amid the wave of pro-democracy movements in other Arab countries.

Demonstrators have demanded democratic reforms and an end to what they say is the discrimination by Bahrain's Sunni rulers.

Bahrain, an important U.S. ally, is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and is part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group.

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