Four Americans have been arrested in Bahrain for entering the country using false information and allegedly participating in “attacks on police,” according to a police statement released Monday.
Bahrain officials said some of the arrested Americans were members of the international media but “had not registered with the concerned authority and were involved in illegal activities.”
The family of one of those arrested released a statement, identifying one of the journalists as Anna Therese Day. The other three Americans were not identified.
“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,” the statement read, calling for her release and the release of her crew.
Day, who has done freelance work for CNN in the past, has reported for various media outlets including the New York Times, Al Jazeera English and CBS.
The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain said it was “aware of the arrest of four U.S. citizens in Bahrain” on Sunday but provided no further comment because of privacy concerns.
All four Americans entered the country between February 11 and 12, providing false information that they were tourists, the Bahrain Interior Ministry said.
The Americans’ presence coincided with rallies marking the fifth anniversary of Bahrain’s 2011 uprising.
Bahrain is a small island nation with a predominantly Shiite population ruled by a Sunni minority. Sunday’s demonstrations took place in, Sitra, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood south of the capital, Manama, known for sporadic protests since the 2011 pro-reform movement inspired by the Arab Spring.
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.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, at least six other journalists are in prison in Bahrain in connection with their work.
“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,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour. “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.”