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Bahrain: Blogger Released on Bail!

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Bahrain, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Technology

Illustrious Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al Yousi [1]f described a certain minister as ‘stupid.’ The minister lodged a case against the blogger, who was summoned by the CID [2] yesterday [3].

Today, he went to the public prosecutor, where he was questioned again for three hours, in the presence of a lawyer, and released on bail [4].

“It is worth noting that in Bahrain’s law, lawyers present are not allowed to interrupt the public prosecutor during questioning, at all, object to a question nor advise their clients not to answer a particular one! They just sit there until the end of the session at which time they are given the chance to register any complaints and make any demands like asking the prosecutor for a copy of the file and to release the defendant on his own recognizance or on bail, rather than rot in jail over the weekend for instance,” wrote Al Yousif.

“At the end of the 3 hours of questioning, he asked us to adjourn to the waiting room for him to deliberate. He did, and decided that this case should be regarded as a misdemeanor and set bail at BD500 (US$1,325).My lawyer insisted on paying that on my behalf and we walked out.”

“What comes next is that the file goes through to the general prosecutor’s office for them to decide whether to accept the case and go through with it to the courts, or refuse it and close the case. That all remains to be seen over the next few days. Unless of course, the plaintiff drops the defamation case against me, then although his case will be dropped, it is again up to the public prosecutor and in the interest of general public whether to go ahead with it or drop it,” explains Al Yousif.

Will this shut him up? And what is his advise to bloggers in his country?

“What’s next though? What is Mahmood Al-Yousif going to do? Am I going to change the direction of the blog, will I concentrate on non-political articles, will I stop criticising public officials and government performance, will I go underground, should I have refused to post bail and get thrown into prison for a few days in order to be a martyr for the cause? What’s next?,” he writes.
“Next is business as usual as far as I am concerned. One thing I would strongly urge Bahraini bloggers to do is go underground. It is not worth getting yourself known as that will only invite suits as I am experiencing now. They can never sue anonymous persons of course and they know it.”

Needless to say that Al Yousif's latest brush off with the authorities generated an outpour of support from around the world. Make sure to read the comments sections on his blog.

Fellow Blogger Lulu took the opportunity to mourn freedom of expression [5].

“Now, if I can call all my fellow people to observe 1 minute of silence in honor of the late freedom of speech, peace be upon her,” she notes.

Silly Bahraini Girl too rallied to the support of Al Yousif with an open letter [6]:

“I really don't understand why he took offence from personal thoughts you wrote on your personal online journal, ie, your blog. If he didn't like it, I don't know why he didn't change the channel, I mean stop intruding on your very own cyberspace. After all, you didn't force him to come and read your blog, did you? He or whoever translated to him what you wrote, came according to his own accord..didn't he? So why are they complaining now?” she wonders.