TEL AVIV – Anna Day, an independent journalist, and three members of her camera crew were arrested in Bahrain on Sunday during protests marking the fifth anniversary of the so-called Arab Spring, U.S. and Bahraini officials have confirmed.
The rights group Reporters Without Borders put out a statement demanding the four American citizens be released from custody “rapidly and without harm.”
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the detentions but would not comment on the reports, citing privacy concerns.
A Bahraini police statement said the four Americans were arrested in the Shia town of Sitra on Sunday during protests that erupted into clashes with security forces.
“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 other three were arrested at a security checkpoint in the same area,” read the statement.
Bahraini authorities claimed the four “provided false information to concerned authorities” upon entry to the country on February 11 and 12, telling border agents they were tourists.
CNN further reported:
Bahrain police said they dispersed the rioters in accordance with Bahraini law, further accusing one of the arrested Americans of concealing his or her face “with a cloth and participating in attacks on police alongside other rioters in Sitra.”
The other three Americans were arrested at a security checkpoint in the area, police said.
The case has been referred to the public prosecutor.
Day’s family released their own statement, through a spokesperson:
Anna and her crew are committed journalists who only want to ensure they could undertake their profession ethically and thoroughly. The allegation that they were in any way involved in illegal behavior or anything other than journalistic activities is impossible. Anna Day is much loved and missed and we are concerned about her well being as well as that of her three American colleagues. We hope the Bahraini authorities will release all four journalists as soon as possible so they can return home.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists told reporters that six other journalists are in Bahraini prisons in conjunction with the profession.
“It is sad that the fifth anniversary of the protests is marked by the arrest of yet more journalists in Bahrain, which has since become one of the worst jailers of journalists in the Arab world,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour told CNN. “We call for the immediate release of the four journalists arrested today and all other journalists who have been imprisoned over the past five years.”
Day’s website bio says she is an “award-winning independent journalist and social media researcher.” She is a columnist for the Huffington Post, and a regular contributor to HuffPostLive and The New York Times Women in the World. She has done reporting work for CNN, Al Jazeera English and CBS.
Her bio continues:
She is a 2013 Fulbright Fellow, a 2012 United Nations Press Fellow, and was named one of Google Zeitgeist’s top 30 Great Young Minds of Our Time in 2011.
The Shorty Awards for Social Media recognized her as one of the Top 10 journalists of the Year at their 2013 and 2014 awards. Recently, she was named a national finalist for Running Start’s Emerging Young Leader Awards and selected as one of Mic.com’s #Mic50 Millennial Leaders 2015 list.
In 2015, Day became a global brand ambassador for Skype’s “The Things We Can Do” English-language campaign.
Day has worked on the ground in Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Jordan, Kiribati, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Syria, South Sudan, and Turkey.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.