independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Journalists held by Bahrain police

Protesters carry anti-F1 signs during a march against the Bahrain Grand Prix (AP)

The controversial Bahrain Grand Prix has gone ahead without disruption but British journalists are facing deportation after being held by police elsewhere on the Gulf island.

Violent disturbances have been intensifying in recent days with around 50,000 anti-government protesters gathering around the capital Manama, just 25 miles away from where the race meeting took place.

Opponents fought pitched battles with security officials, with claims surfacing that protester Salah Habib Abbas, 37, was killed by shotgun pellets fired by riot police on a rooftop during an overnight raid. The race itself passed peacefully, despite rumours leading opposition party al-Wefaq had purchased tickets and planned a protest inside the track.

But Channel 4 News' foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller was arrested along with his cameraman Joe Sheffer and producer Dave Fuller. They were detained at a police station for several hours before being driven to an airport where they are awaiting deportation.

The news crew were unharmed, but concerns were raised about the welfare of their local driver and British-Bahraini human rights activist Dr Ala'a Shehabi, whom they were travelling with.

The driver was arrested and assaulted in front of the team and appeared to be bleeding from cuts to his arms, while Dr Shehabi had her arm slammed in a car door by riot police, said the journalist.

Mr Miller revealed the team, which was filming a small demonstration in a village, was arrested by "scores" of balaclava-clad riot police after "a short car chase" during which their vehicle was tracked by a police helicopter. The team was then held at a police station and interrogated by local police officers.

In an interview broadcast on Channel 4 News, Mr Miller said they had been unable to obtain official accreditation to report on the race due to restrictions by the authorities and were "under the radar". He said that once caught, police were "very aggressive" towards the crew.

Mr Miller later told BBC Radio 5Live the security officials were "particularly verbally abusive" to the two Bahrainis they were with. He said: "Today I have witnessed at first hand the the abusive behaviour of both riot police and formal police."

Amnesty International said human rights violations are continuing in the country despite government promises that the country is on the road to reform.

Press Association

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