Amnesty Int’l Says Photographer Ahmad Al-Fardan Is Prisoner of Conscience & Calls for his Immediate Release
2016-02-08 - 10:19 p
Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International stated that a Bahraini court upheld a verdict sentencing Bahraini photographer Ahmad Al-Fardan to three months in prison over charges of "attempting to participate in a public gathering" in connection with a demonstration on 16 December 2013 in Abu Saiba' village, west of the capital Manama.
In a statement issued on Friday (February 5, 2016), Amnesty said that Fardan had intended to cover the demonstration as a photographer, adding that the appeals court also ordered that all his electronic devices be confiscated including his computer, camera and camera lenses. He has been transferred from court to Jaw prison, southeastern Bahrain, to serve his prison sentence.
The human rights organization deemed him a "prisoner of conscience," and further stated that during his transfer to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Manama "he says he was slapped in the face, beaten" and hit on his genitalia. "During interrogation he reported being blindfolded, his hands cuffed behind his back and he was beaten until he passed out. X-Rays, seen by Amnesty International, showed two ribs had been broken," it added.
"On 9 January 2014, Ahmad Fardan was taken to meet a member of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) who asked about his alleged torture and other illtreatment. Amnesty International is not aware that any further investigation into Ahmad Fardan's torture allegations took place," it said.
Amnesty also noted that "the Ministry of the Interior published a statement on 14 January 2014 denying Ahmad Fardan had been tortured or sustained broken ribs, stating that he had been arrested in connection with his ‘involvement in a Molotov cocktail attack on police earlier in the month'. This was the first time Ahmad Fardan knew of this charge but Amnesty International understands that it has subsequently been dropped."
Concluding its statement, Amnesty called for writing to the Bahraini authorities, urging them "to quash the conviction against Ahmad Fardan and release him immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his peaceful work as a photojournalist; order a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that Ahmad Fardan was tortured or otherwise ill-treated when in the custody of the security forces; and uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, in line with Bahrain's international human rights obligations.
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