Four American journalists, including award-winning freelancer Anna Day, have been released after being arrested in Bahrain Sunday.
The Bahraini Public Prosecution confirmed all of the individuals were released pending further investigations Tuesday, the Bahrain News Agency reported.
The prosecutor investigated the incident and informed the U.S. Embassy of the arrests. The individuals were questioned in the presence of lawyers and charged with unlawful obstruction of vehicles and attending unlawful gatherings.
The journalists left a police station after meeting with prosecutors and were on their way to the airport to fly out Tuesday night, lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi told The Associated Press.
On Monday, Bahraini police said they detained the four Americans for providing "false information that they were tourists," while also alleging one took part in an attack on officers.
The U.S. State Department told Reuters it was aware of reports that U.S. citizens had been arrested but declined further comment, citing privacy considerations.
One of the journalists, Anna Therese Day, is an award winning freelance journalist and Fulbright scholar who has written for the Huffington Post, Mic, New York Times Women in the World, and other online and print publications. The three men were part of her camera crew, Reuters reported.
In a post on Facebook, Anna's sister Molly Day confirmed the reporters had left Bahrain.
Thank you for your tremendous outpouring of support. We have good news: Anna and her team have boarded a Gulf Air plane bound for Dubai, where they will meet with a colleague and get a good night's sleep before continuing on to the U.S.
We are so grateful to the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain and to the hundreds of people who rallied around us to connect us to lawyers, journalists, politicians, and activists, and to those of you who simply shared your thoughts, prayers, and words of support. Your love meant the world to us these past 24 hours.
This morning I am feeling immeasurably thankful for and deeply humbled by the power of community. Love to you all.
The identities of the other journalists have not been released. Bahraini police said one was a woman and the other three were men.
Witnesses told the AP that police arrested a photographer covering the anniversary. Later that night, police surrounded the area with checkpoints and arrested the other three, the witnesses said. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being arrested.
An Interior Ministry statement alleged one of the four journalists "was wearing a mask and participating in attacks on police alongside other rioters in Sitra."
The statement also said the journalists entered the country between Thursday and Friday on tourist visas.
"At least some of the arrestees were in the country as members of the international media but had not registered with the concerned authority and were involved in illegal activities," the statement said, without elaborating on what those activities were.
Bahrain requires international journalists to obtain special media visas before entering Bahrain to work. The island kingdom allows citizens of many countries, including the U.S., to get a tourist visa on arrival. Obtaining a media visa takes several days if granted, and activists say Bahrain has denied media visas for some journalists since the 2011 protests.
Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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