Bahrain releases `Blogfather` after US criticism

Bahraini authorities on Friday freed Internet blogger Mahmood al-Yousif, also known as the "Blogfather", whose arrest drew criticism from the US State Department, the official news agency BNA said.

Updated: Apr 02, 2011, 00:50 AM IST

Manama: Bahraini authorities on Friday freed
Internet blogger Mahmood al-Yousif, also known as the
"Blogfather", whose arrest drew criticism from the US State
Department, the official news agency BNA said.

A government spokesman cited by BNA said Yousif was
questioned yesterday but gave no further details.

The United States has criticised the arrest, while
also renewing its condemnation of violence in the Sunni-ruled
Gulf kingdom where Shiite-led protests broke out in
mid-February.

"We`re deeply concerned about his arrest. He`s a
prominent and respected blogger," Mark Toner, a State
Department spokesman, said on Wednesday.

"We`re also concerned about reports of the detention
of two other Internet activists who have expressed their views
on recent events in Bahrain," Toner said.

"We hope that the Bahraini government`s decision to
arrest bloggers and Internet activists will not make it more
difficult to resume a national dialogue," he said.

Yousif himself tweeted early on Wednesday from his
home that he was being arrested.

His blog, "Mahmood`s Den", describes itself as "an
Arab man`s attempt at bridging the cultural gap. Trying to
make a difference, failing a lot, succeeding once in a while".

Ali Salman, leader of the Shiite opposition bloc
Al-Wefaq, said earlier this week that about 300 arrests have
been made since March 16 when security forces crushed a camp
in central Manama set up by pro-democracy demonstrators.

MP Matar Matar, meanwhile, who has resigned along with
his Al-Wefaq colleagues in protest at violence used against
demonstrators, said on Friday he was barred from travel out of
Bahrain.

"Security agents in civilian clothes informed me of
the decision at Manama airport as I was preparing to leave for
Kuwait," he said to a news agency.

The move follows a vote in parliament to accept 11 out
of Wefaq`s 18 resignations, exposing the 11 including Matar to
possible legal action having been stripped of parliamentary
immunity.

At least 24 people, including four policemen, were
killed in a month of protests, according to Bahraini
officials. Toner said US officials "condemn the violence
against civilians and peaceful protesters" in Bahrain.

Yesterday, Bahraini authorities said a teenager who
died of injuries near Manama this week was not shot as alleged
by the Shiite opposition but had suffered a "fatal neck
fracture".

PTI