LONDON (Reuters) - Bahrain said on Tuesday that it was expelling the Reuters correspondent in the Gulf kingdom.
Frederik Richter, who has been based in the capital Manama since 2008, was told to leave within a week after officials complained Reuters had lacked balance in its reporting during the recent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
“Reuters regrets Bahrain’s decision to expel its correspondent,” Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said. “We stand by Frederik Richter’s reporting and we will continue to provide comprehensive and unbiased coverage from the country.”
An official at the Information Affairs Authority, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nezar al-Khalifa, said Bahrain was not closing down the Reuters operations in Manama and would accredit another correspondent nominated by the agency.
“We have no problem with Reuters. We’re not closing the office and (Reuters) can send in a replacement,” he said.
Popular protests across the Arab world this spring have put authoritarian rulers under pressure, leading many to impose curbs on the media. Before Bahrain, Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia had expelled Reuters correspondents in recent weeks.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called the intensity of recent repression and attacks on the media in the Middle East and North Africa unprecedented.
In Bahrain, several journalists have been detained since protests began in February which have pitched Shi’ite Muslims, who form a majority of the island’s population, against the Sunni monarchy, which accused Shi’ite Iran of fomenting unrest.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday: “The problems for those who defend media freedom continue to be extremely worrying in Bahrain.”
Security forces, backed by troops from neighboring, Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, have stifled demonstrations. Hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens put on trial. Four Shi’ite men have been sentenced to death. The king has said a state of emergency will be lifted on June 1.
Reuters, part of New York-based Thomson Reuters, the leading information provider, employs some 3,000 journalists worldwide.
Editing by Alastair Macdonald