Bahrain denies foreign media ban
Manama, February 9, 2012
Bahrain has denied claims that foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country as the first anniversary of anti-government protests approaches.
The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) yesterday said it had licensed several international news organisations to enter the country in the next two weeks.
It said among them were the BBC, Voice of America, National Public Radio, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Der Spiegel, Russia Today, Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Reuters, Associated Press and American networks ABC, NBC and CBS as well as Arab media from across the region.
Preparations are even being made for them to accompany police on operations and cover both legal and unauthorised demonstrations.
Responding to claims that some journalists had not been accredited, IAA president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said there had been an unusually high volume of media visa requests for the period from February 11 to 18.
He said they had been processed over the past month once specific dates had been requested, with those who failed to specify exact dates or who were late in applying being asked to delay their visit until the end of the month.
Shaikh Fawaz said this was to ensure their safety and chances of securing interviews with key figures.
"A number of journalists applied from the same media outlet, so in those cases we processed the earliest requests and asked those that applied later to come at the end of the month instead," said Shaikh Fawaz.
"We wanted to make sure we had a wide range of international media here during this time, rather than having five to 10 reporters from the same organisation."
He said the IAA was committed to helping foreign journalists cover events in Bahrain safely.
"One of the chief concerns for the IAA is that journalists coming to Bahrain are able to meet people who can provide them with the information they seek, and especially that their safety is ensured," Shaikh Fawaz added.
"To that end, the IAA has been working with the Interior Ministry to arrange for the media to ride along on operations and cover both legal and unauthorised demonstrations," he said. – TradeArabia News Service