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Former editors of opposition Bahraini newspaper to face prosecutor

From Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ex-editor Al-Jamri: "I have been subjected to a smear and unfair media campaign"
  • He and two other former editors will go to the public prosecutor's office Monday
  • Al-Wasat is accused of "deliberate news fabrication" during Bahrain's unrest
  • The government has tried to crack down on protests

(CNN) -- The former editor-in-chief of Al-Wasat, an opposition newspaper in Bahrain, says he and two colleagues have been summoned by the country's public prosecutor for questioning.

Mansoor Al-Jamri told CNN he and two other former editors at Al-Wasat will go to the public prosecutor's office on Monday, a result of allegations the the newspaper falsified and fabricated reports during protests in the country that have led to a government crackdown.

Al-Wasat's former managing editor, Walid Nouwaihidh; its former local news department head, Aqeel Mirza; and Al-Jamri were all fired earlier this month.

At the time, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported that the state Information Affairs Authority had "instigated legal proceedings" against the daily newspaper following the firings.

"The flagrant press irregularities committed by Bahrain daily Al-Wasat will be referred to the International Federation of Journalists and the Arab Journalists Union," the news agency reported.

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According to the news agency, the accusations against Al-Wasat also included "deliberate news fabrication and falsification during the recent unrest which gripped the Kingdom of Bahrain."

Al-Jamri, a CNN contributor, denies the allegations.

"I have been subjected to a smear and unfair media campaign," Al-Jamri said.

The protests in Bahrain are part of a wave of unrest that has spread through northern Africa and the Middle East as demonstrators rose up against their rulers. To quell the protests, the Bahraini government called in troops from member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The government crackdown and arrests are part of an effort to stop thousands of people who have been demonstrating in Bahrain since last month.

Doctors Without Borders has accused Bahraini forces of raiding medical facilities to crack down on protesters, prompting injured people to avoid going to hospitals.

"Wounds, especially those inflicted by distinctive police and military gunfire, are used to identify people for arrest, and the denial of medical care is being used by Bahraini authorities to deter people from protesting," said Latifa Ayada, the organization's medical coordinator. The group is also known by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported last week that more than 400 people had been jailed or have gone missing since the government of Bahrain imposed a state of "national safety."

Attached to the Bahrain Center's statement is a spreadsheet listing the names of 379 missing or detained people, all of them male. One of them, Nasser Ali-Jishi, was listed as having been "of contempt run over and killed by police."

On Thursday, the country's crown prince defended the government's actions during the unrest.

"We were immensely concerned that some of our youth were pushed towards a destructive path, and that the nation was drawn along with them," Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said in a speech, according to an official transcript.