A Channel 4 news team including foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller has been deported from Bahrain following their arrest by police while filming a demonstration in a local village.
Miller, cameraman Joe Sheffer, producer Dave Fuller and activist Dr Ala’a Shehabi were released by authorities last night and the three Channel 4 members were driven to Bahrain airport at “breakneck” speed in a police van for deportation back to the UK, according to Miller.
There are, however, fears over the fate of their driver, who was reportedly violently attacked by police before being taken away separately.
According to a report on Channel 4 News, Miller and his team were initially refused permission to board an aircraft by British Airways because they did not have the correct documentation, but they finally flew back on another plane early this morning.
Miller tweeted: “OK…Channel 4 three finally being deported aboard a non-British airline. Goodbye Bahrain. I met some lovely people but not many were cops.”
A spokesperson for Channel 4 News said: “We are pleased to confirm that our team is safe and on their way back to the UK. We also have confirmation that the team’s driver – who they saw assaulted by Bahraini authorities, and human rights activist, Dr Ala’a Shehabi, have also been released.”
The team’s trip to Bahrain coincided with yesterday’s controversial Grand Prix that went ahead without disruption following the threat of mass protests, although there were reports of skirmishes and a number of arrests amid heavy security.
Miller said the team was arrested by “scores” of balaclava-clad riot police after “a short car chase” during which their vehicle was tracked by a police helicopter. They were then held at a police station and interrogated by local police officers.
In an interview broadcast on Channel 4 News, Miller said they had been unable to obtain official accreditation to report on the race due to restrictions by the authorities and were “under the radar”.
He said that once caught, police were “very aggressive” towards the crew.
“One of the reasons I went to Bahrain in the first place is because we know that the human rights record of this government is not good, so I am not happy at all leaving the two Bahraini colleagues of mine behind in police custody,” he said.
“Today I have witnessed at first hand the abusive behaviour of both riot police and formal police.” He added: ‘What I have seen suggests the police are using weapons which are causing injuries to those who are protesting,” he added.
“These people are being hit by tear gas canisters on a regular basis.”
The channel’s head of foreign news Ben de Pear has urged foreign secretary William Hague to raise the way the team was treated with Bahrain authorities.
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