Trial of Bahrain blogger Ali Abdulemam could be watershed for Middle East press freedom

The trial of blogger Ali Abdulemam, due to start this week in Bahrain, is being seen as a potential watershed moment for press freedom in the Middle East.

The digital dissent on his blog bahraineonline.org had been seen as a sign that the kingdom was opening up. His arrest is seen by many as state retaliation for his publishing critical articles.

Perhaps more tellingly for the Bahrain authorities, the repressive arrest of Abdulemam could destroy the state’s self-styled image as “a great place to do business” as the Wall Street Journal notes in this detailed report.

This rather far-fetched sounding report from the Bahrain News Agency suggests that the Bahrainonline.org blog was funded by a London-based terror mastermind.

Former City University head of journalism Adrian Monck told me today that he had conversations with the Bahraini authorities about journalism education (in the context of becoming a more open society) several years ago.

He said: “His case is but one of many, however he stands for what many people hoped blogs and the digital revolution might achieve, his imprisonment is a testimony to another broken utopian promise, and he deserves better.”

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