2 American women deported after Bahrain protest

Story highlights

  • The two American women have been deported, the State Department said
  • Both women are human rights lawyers, an advocacy group says
  • They were charged with being at an illegal gathering and giving false reasons for entering, one woman's husband says
Two American women arrested during a demonstration in Bahrain have been deported, the U.S. State Department said Sunday.
Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath left Bahrain on Sunday morning, said department spokesman Harry Edwards.
The advocacy group Witness Bahrain said both women are human rights lawyers and were in the country as part of an effort to have more civilians from different nations on the ground to monitor the situation.
Adam Shapiro, Arraf's husband, said he spoke with her by phone when she arrived at Heathrow Airport in London. She told him they were deported without their belongings and had their hands cuffed behind their backs the entire flight from Bahrain, Shapiro said, speaking from Ireland.
The two women are expected to arrive in New York City on Sunday night.
Arraf and Sainath arrived in Bahrain several days ago and obtained tourist visas, according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency .
They were arrested Saturday afternoon by authorities in Manama, the news agency and Witness Bahrain said.
Shapiro said the two have been charged with being at an illegal gathering, because the protest they were at was not considered legal, as well as giving false reasons for entering the county. He based that account on talks with U.S. embassy officials.
Arraf gave a statement to police in English that was written down in Arabic, her husband said. She refused to sign the statement because it was not translated back to English, according to Shapiro.
Neither woman appeared to have suffered any sort of injuries, U.S. embassy officials told Shapiro.
Sainath wrote a piece Friday for Witness Bahrain, saying, "Surely, the government would behave differently if Americans and Europeans were watching."
"Our team came together: attorneys, human rights activists, social workers, journalists and others who had experience with nonviolent resistance and democracy movements in Mexico, Palestine, Pakistan and the United States," she said.
Bahrain protests began February 14, 2011, following popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. But they failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings following a crackdown that first month and then again in mid-March by Bahraini authorities -- backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Demonstrators and Bahraini authorities have continued to clash, with the opposition accusing the government of being heavy handed in its crackdown.