UK arrested prominent Bahraini rights activist at the airport

After speaking to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva about human rights violations in the Persian Gulf nation, a well-known Bahraini activist claims he was detained at Gatwick Airport in London as he returned to the United Kingdom.

The UK Border Force officials stopped Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei after he arrived on Friday, according to the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), based in the UK. However, the officials gave no explanation for why he was being held.

The authorities instead handed him a document that stated that he was “an individual who may be liable to arrest by a constable or subject to a warrant for arrest.” After waiting for two and a half hours, Alwadaei claimed he was finally freed.

When he arrived back from South Africa last month, the Bahraini activist claimed he was also detained at a UK airport. Whether or not Friday’s development is related to that incident is still unknown.

Alwadaei stated on Friday that the lack of any explanation simply keeps one’s mind adrift. “You’re not sure – is it an Interpol red notice? What is it?”.

After being freed, the activist stated that he was more worried about a group of female Bahraini human rights activists who were traveling back to Bahrain from Geneva after attending the council’s session.

Ebtisam al-Saegh was one of the women who was detained for seven hours and interrogated in March 2017 at Bahrain International Airport after speaking about abuses in the Arab nation at the UN Human Rights Council.

Alwadaei is a “courageous human rights defender and torture survivor,” according to Maya Foa, co-executive director of the London-based human rights organization Reprieve. The UK has granted him asylum due to violence and persecution by Bahraini authorities.

Sayed’s family has faced retaliation in Bahrain as a result of his work disclosing torture, forced confessions that result in death sentences, and the part that institutions funded by the UK played in covering up this abuse, according to Foa.

She said, “Given these facts, Sayed’s detention today is obviously extremely alarming for Sayed and his family.

In light of Bahrain’s removal from the list of nations with the highest priority for human rights this year—the first time since 2015—Foa said the incident raises “urgent questions” for the UK government.


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