When Are You Blackmailed with Video of Yourself Sleeping with Your Wife?

When You Challenge the U.S.-Allied Bahraini Government

Bahraini authorities are targeting human rights activist and lawyer Mr. Mohamed Isa Al-Tajer due to his human rights activities and years of work on behalf of political detainees and prisoners of conscience.

Mohamed Isa Al-Tajer is an attorney, human rights activist, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-violence Organisation (BRAVO) and works with many international human rights organizations. Al-Tajer has defended many prisoners and participated in several defense firms formed to defend activists, political figures, and prominent human rights defenders in Bahrain since 2007.

In June 2012, Al-Tajer participated at the Bahrain UPR meeting in Geneva. Pro-Bahrain-government newspapers and state television led a smear campaign against Al-Tajer. Later video and private photos of him and his wife were published via pro-government forums and accounts on the social media.

Al-Tajer has previously provided testimony to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry BICI that “he was videotaped sleeping with his wife and that he was threatened that this tape would be made public.” (BICI 1261.b)

According to Al-Tajer’s testimony, after spending a night at his beach house with his wife, more than a year ago, he started receiving threats in January 2011 from people he believes are intelligence agents of the Bahrain government. Al-Tajer was told that they had installed cameras in his beach house, and now had a tape of him being intimate with his wife. The threats targeted his work, and he was told that if he did not stop his human rights work they would release the tape. In January 2011 Al-Tajer was defending a group of opposition activists and led a protest movement inside the court when he withdrew from the trial for lack of any fair hearing; he was followed by 45 other lawyers, a move that attracted attention to the problems of the judicial system in Bahrain.

Al-Tajer refused to be blackmailed and continued with his work as a human rights lawyer. During the popular protest last year, Al-Tajer reportedly made a speech in which he addressed the public in the Pearl Roundabout in March 2011 to denounce Bahrain’s human rights record.

In April 2011 after the crackdown on the protesters Al-Tajer received more threats, but he continued to express his opinions through the media, and he was eventually arrested on 15 April 2011 by a group of more than 20 masked and armed plain-clothes men, belonging to security forces who raided his house after midnight. He was held incommunicado until he appeared before the National Safety Court (Military) on June 12, 2011 facing charges of incitement of hatred against the regime, releasing of false news and taking part in a demonstration.

During his detention, Al-Tajer was subjected to torture and ill-treatment. He was kept in solitary confinement during seven weeks, beaten and kicked, forced to stand for long hours with his hands against the wall, prevented from going to the bathroom, sleeping, talking with other detainees and having contact with his family during two consecutive months. On August 6, 2011, after 114 days of detentions, he was released on bail.

The trial against Al-Tajer has still not been concluded and the next hearing session is scheduled on 26 June 2012. Confiscated items during the arrest which include confidential lawyer client information, as well as family pictures and videos have not been returned to him. Additionally, Al Tajer’s telephone communications and movement allegedly remain under close monitoring by the National Security Intelligence.

After participating at the UPR process in Geneva last month, Al-Tajer received text messages on his mobile phone threatening him not to take part in a conference held to discuss the UPR meetings by the Bahrain National Democratic Action Society on Wed 30 May 2012, and when he did, the video was released the next day. The video was released on a pro government website, Bahrain Forums, which has played a huge role in spreading sectarianism and conducting attacks and defamation campaigns on people who are part of the opposition and/or activists.

The Bahrain government and dictator are not denounced in the U.S. media because of their alliance with the U.S. military. But if anything gives the lie to the pretense that U.S. motivations in Libya or Syria or Iran are related to human rights it is the absolute indifference to the rights of humans in Bahrain.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and War Is a Crime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Read other articles by David.