Bahraini blogger arrested for humour

This video says about itself:

Bahrain Blogger Lamees Dhaif

22 June 2011

Bahrain Blogger Lamees Dhaif and her family have been harassed because of Lamees’ posts criticizing the Bahrain government. She is now based outside of Bahrain and unable to blog. She shares her story in the Arab Spring session during Netroots Nation 2011 held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Asked if she’s scared that there will be consequences of her speaking out at Netroots Nations 2011: “I know that I will pay for it with a very high price. But if I keep quiet, more and more people are paying every day.”

From Global Voices Advocacy:

Bahraini Satirist Blogger Takrooz Arrested

Translation posted 5 July 2014 7:19 GMT

The Bahrain Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of yet another netizen, who reportedly faces accusations of “inciting hatred against the regime.”

The satirist micro-blogger, nicknamed Takrooz, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport, while on his way back from Thailand, said the ministry in a statement on June 18, 2014, without disclosing his name.

A day later, many Bahrainis were fuming on Twitter, saying the arrest was futile and served no purpose other than to further demonstrate the government’s true colours in stifling opposition voices online. Scores of netizens have been arrested by the regime since anti-government protests started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Among them are Mahmood Al-Yousif, Mohamed Almaskati and Global Voices author Mohamed Hassan.

Bahrain is regarded as an enemy of the Internet according to the Reporters without Borders’ 2014 report and is ranked second in the number of detained journalists per capita in 2013 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

With nearly 18,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 tweets, Takrooz has been an active voice in charting the government crackdown on activists. Bahrain Watch, a research and transparency group, reported that Takrooz’ Twitter account was repeatedly targeted for surveillance by the Bahraini government. His tweets, in Arabic, cover abuse by law enforcement personnel, anti-corruption content and everyday concerns of the average Bahraini.

Nabeel Rajab: Bahrain’s people are a casualty of Washington’s political compromises: here.

United States NSA spying even on its Bahraini royal allies

Document about NSA spying

From Gulf Daily News in Bahrain:

US spying on Bahrain is revealed

By Sandeep Singh Grewal

Thursday, July 03, 2014

AMERICA’s top intelligence agency has been spying on the Bahraini government – one of its closest allies in the region – along with 192 other countries, it has emerged.

A document marked Top Secret reveals that a US surveillance court approved the snooping.

It lists 193 governments as well as foreign factions, political organisations and other entities to be spied on.

Almost all of the world’s governments were approved for surveillance, as well as the World Bank, United Nations (UN) and political organisations such as the Amal movement in Lebanon and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The snooping was sanctioned by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and was published on Monday, after being part of a trove of documents leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers last year by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

“These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance, for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence,” states a report published in The Washington Post.

The US Embassy in Bahrain yesterday refused to comment on intelligence matters.

The secret documents classified by the US Attorney General show the NSA was permitted to collect information of most countries except the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


Some of the institutions targeted included the Arab League, International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, European Union, African Union, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others.

The list also includes the Bolivarian Continental Co-ordinator, National Salvation Front, India’s Bharatiya Janta Party and the Pakistan People’s Party.

Shura Council foreign affairs defence and national security committee chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa yesterday said it was “unacceptable” that the US spied on one of its strongest allies in the region

“The Bahrain government is the strongest ally of the US and this issue clearly reflects the negative US foreign policy towards the Arab world,” he said.

“Gathering intelligence data from our country can affect our national security.”

He now wants to submit a dossier outlining the negative policy of the US and its reports on Bahrain to the Foreign Ministry.

“I am surprised that the US surveillance could not stop the situation in Iraq because if they did gather information, they would have known about the present situation there in advance,” he said.

An article published on July 3 by German public broadcaster Das Erste reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using its surveillance program XKeyScore to target users of the traffic anonymizing software Tor and the Tails operating system, for deep packet inspection, data retention, and heightened surveillance: here.

Bahrain dictatorship persecutes photographers for photography

This video is called Maryam Al-Khawaja on the Struggle for Human Rights in Bahrain.

From Human Rights Watch:

Bahrain: Award-Winning Photographers Targeted

‘This Will Teach You Not to Take Photos’

June 21, 2014

(Beirut) – Authorities in Bahrain are arbitrarily detaining photographers who have covered protests and convicting them in unfair trials. Four award-winning Bahraini photographers are either in jail or facing criminal charges in what appears to be part of a policy that violates photographers’ right to freedom of expression.

On June 22, 2014, Hussain Hubail, who won a 2013 award for his photographs of anti-government protests, will appeal a five-year sentence for taking part in an “illegal gathering” and inciting hatred of the government. On June 25, Ahmed Humaidan, who also took award-winning photos of protests and recently won the 2014 John Aubochon Press Freedom Award, will appeal a 10-year sentence for allegedly attacking a police station. Family members told Human Rights Watch that both were mistreated in pre-trial detention.

“The images that Ahmed Humaidan and Hussain Hubail captured portray a reality that the Bahraini government would prefer that the world – and other Bahrainis – not see,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Throwing photographers in jail isn’t going to keep either the protests or the accounts of what happens in Bahrain out of the world’s sight.”

Authorities have targeted two other award-winning photographers in the last year, and two videographers are also in detention. Other photographers have told Human Rights Watch that security forces targeted them because of their profession and then subjected them to serious mistreatment in custody. The appeal courts should ensure that any allegations that the photographers were tortured in detention are properly investigated and throw out evidence secured by torture, Human Rights Watch said.

Ahmed al-Fardan, a photojournalist whose photograph of protests in Bahrain won first prize in Freedom House’s “Images of Repression and Freedom” competition in April 2013, faces charges of participating in an “illegal gathering” on December 16, 2013, at which 60 people allegedly attacked police vehicles.

Security forces arrested him in the early hours of December 26. “The first question they asked me was, ‘Where is your camera?’” he told Human Rights Watch. He said that police in civilian clothes confiscated two cameras, hard drives, and flash drives from his room. The police took him to Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters, where police blindfolded and handcuffed him in a cell known as “the freezer,” because it was kept so cold, he said. CID officers and a public prosecutor asked him about his photography awards during interrogations. His first trial session is scheduled for September 14, 2104.

Plain-clothes officers arrested Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, another award-winning photographer, and his brother Mohamed at 5 a.m. on February 10. They did not present a warrant. Their father, who visits his sons every week, told Human Rights Watch that the two did not make contact with the family for six days. He said that Sayed told him then that interrogators humiliated and beat him and that he signed a confession to avoid further physical and psychological punishment.

Al-Mousawi’s father said that police questioned his son about his work as a photographer. Sayed al-Mousawi began by taking pictures of wildlife, but started taking pictures of protests after the anti-government uprising of February 2011. On May 29, 2014, a judge authorized his detention for a further 45 days, although he has yet to be formally charged.

Another professional photographer who requested anonymity told Human Rights Watch that police arrested him and three other men in the aftermath of a funeral in the town of Jidhafs on January 21, 2012, at which he had been taking photos. He said that police took them to an empty building and beat them with sticks and pipes. He claims that his beating was especially severe because he had been seen taking photos of the funeral. “This will teach you not to take photos,” he said one officer told him.

Videographers Jaffar Marhoon and Qassim Aldeen have also been in detention, since December 26, 2013, and August 2, 2013, respectively. It is not clear what charges Marhoon is facing, although his family told a local source that they believe it to be illegal gathering. Aldeen was sentenced to six months in prison in December on a charge of illegal gathering and to three months in January 2014 on another similar charge.

The former head of the photography department of Al Watan newspaper, Abdullah Hassan, told Human Rights Watch that authorities have been targeting photographers because “photographers have played a leading role in challenging the authorities’ version of events” during and since the anti-government protests of 2011. Hassan said he was fired by the pro-government daily in April 2011, along with three other photojournalists, none of whom have been reinstated.

In May 2011, officers at Riffa police station detained Hassan for six days, during which time he was beaten with a hose and interrogated about his work as a photographer. “Why do you take pictures? Where do you publish them?” an officer who identified himself as “high-ranking” asked Hassan, then told him, “you will never find another job.” Police held him for six days without charge, then released him.

On November 3, 2013, Hassan was hired by Al Ayam newspaper but fired four days later. He was told by the newspaper that the firing was on “orders from above.” He said he has not worked as a photographer since. “I still take photos, but not of demonstrations,” he told Human Rights Watch.

A local journalist, who requested anonymity, said that security forces have detained at least 25 photographers or cameramen since 2011, including the five currently in detention and Ahmed Fardan.

Humaidan’s father told Human Rights Watch that plain-clothes police officers arrested his son as he went into a movie theater on December 29, 2012. Humaidan’s lawyer, Fadel al-Sawad, told Human Rights Watch that he did not see his client until January 14, 2013, two weeks later. At Humaidan’s trial, prosecutors offered no proof linking his client to an attack on Sitra police station and refused to divulge in court the source of their information that Humaidan was involved, the lawyer said. On March 26, 2013, Humaidan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the alleged attack.

Plain-clothes officers arrested Hubail on July 31, 2013, as he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai. His mother told Human Rights Watch that her son had told her that in the days following his arrest, officers at the CID headquarters blindfolded and handcuffed him behind his back and left him exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time. He told her he signed a confession under duress. On April 28, 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges that included using social media networks to “incite hatred of the regime,” calling on people to ignore the law, and calling for illegal demonstrations.

The 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry documented that authorities arrested and interrogated an unspecified number of media personnel during the events of February and March 2011, and that two journalists died in police or National Security Agency custody. In April 2012, Ahmed Ismail, a videographer, was fatally shot while filming protests in the town of Salmabad. Later that month, authorities deported a Channel 4 film crew, and in April 2013, they deported another film crew from ITV.

Article 32 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of expression. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, also protects this right and indicates that the scope of protection covers photography: “[E]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

One of Bahrain’s most famous human rights activists, Nabeel Rajab, has been freed after two years in prison. He says he is willing to pay the price for freedom in the country: here.

On 13 June, 11 members of Congress – led by Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-GA) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) – sent a letter to Secretaries Hagel and Kerry encouraging them to play a stronger role in addressing the political upheaval in Bahrain: here.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern over the recent escalation of the suppression of the citizens’ freedoms and public authority as a result of several decisions of the House of Representative’s house, including the cancellation of the elected municipal council of the Capital Manama: here.

Bahraini arrested for tweeting, with help of British spyware

This video from Britain is called Bahraini Activist Hails Ruling on HMRC Over Spyware Export.

From Bahrain Watch:

Two years before airport arrest, @Takrooz was favorite target of #Bahrain Cyber Crime Unit

Posted June 19, 2014 by & filed under Spy Watch

On Wednesday, news broke that prolific anti-government Tweep @Takrooz was arrested by authorities upon his return to Bahrain.  His Twitter account, with nearly 18,000 followers and 100,000 tweets, became unavailable after his arrest. Police charged @Takrooz with “inciting hatred against the regime” for his social media activity.  He was beloved by many for his cowboy persona and salty humor.

takroozFor several years, @Takrooz represented himself online with this picture of the Marlboro Man.

Last year, Bahrain Watch revealed that dissidents who apparently clicked on links sent by Bahrain’s Cyber Crime Unit were sentenced to jail for “insulting the King.”  @Takrooz was a favorite target of the Cyber Crime Unit; the Unit sent him at least 24 malicious links that were publicly visible.  We suspect that the Unit sent him further malicious links through private messages.

Most of the links that the Cyber Crime Unit sent to @Takrooz were so-called “IP Spy” links, designed to identify the IP address of a user who clicks on the link.  However, one link was to a file created by the Unit, called “DownAlkhalifa.docx.”  The file is hosted on MediaFire, but cannot be downloaded anymore as it is set to “private.”  Bahrain Watch previously exposed how Bahrain’s government uses such documents to hack activists’ computers, with the aid of a British/German company, now known as FinFisher GmbH.

downalkhalifaA picture of the suspicious file sent to @Takrooz using MediaFire

We have compiled twenty of the tweets that Cyber Crime Unit accounts sent to @Takrooz below.  Warning: the links in the Tweets are IP spy links!  Please do not open them from inside Bahrain, unless you are using a VPN or TOR Browser.