Four American journalists have been detained in Bahrain while they were reporting on the anniversary of one of the largest uprisings of the Arab Spring.
American freelance journalist Anna Therese Day and three male journalists were taken on 14 February, according to the Associated Press.
The group reportedly provided “false information that they were tourists” and one journalist allegedly wore a mask and took part in an attack on an officer alongside other rioters.
The US embassy in Manama confirmed it was aware of the arrest of four US citizens but could not discuss the case due to “privacy concerns”.
Witnesses said police arrested a photographer working with the group on Sunday before surrounding the area with checkpoints later that night and arresting the other three.
A statement issued from the Frontline Freelance Register on behalf of the families of the detained journalists confirmed they had not yet been released.
"The four are experienced journalists, having most recently worked on virtual reality documentary filmmaking in Egypt and Gaza, and we hope the Bahraini authorities will release them rapidly and without harm," it read.
A statement from the Interior Ministry in Bahrain said the journalists entered the country between Thursday and Friday on tourist visas and one member of the group participated alongside other rioters in an attack in Sitra.
Sitra is a largely Shiite community south of Bahrain that has seen repeated protests over the last few years.
“At least some of the arrestees were in the country as members of the international media but had not registered with the concerned authority and were involved in illegal activities,” the statement said.
Media visas take several days to acquire and activists say these visas have been denied since the 2011 uprising.
The uprising was led by the country's Shiite population who wanted greater political rights from the Sunni majority, which led to one of the largest protests in the Arab Spring.
The protest was defeated when reinforcements from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were sent in, and Shiite communities have been dissatisfied with government reforms, frequently clashing with authorities since 2011.Reuse content