Bahraini riot police stand guard as mourners attend a funeral in Abu Saiba Village on December 17
Bahraini riot police stand guard as mourners attend a funeral in Abu Saiba Village on December 17. Bahraini authorities on Tuesday ordered the release on bail of Shiite female blogger Zainab al-Khawaja whose rough arrest was exposed worldwide through the YouTube video sharing website. © - AFP/File
Bahraini riot police stand guard as mourners attend a funeral in Abu Saiba Village on December 17
AFP
Last updated: December 20, 2011

Bahrain releases female blogger pending trial

Bahraini authorities on Tuesday ordered the release on bail of Shiite female blogger Zainab al-Khawaja, whose rough arrest was exposed worldwide through YouTube.

The public prosecutor decided to release Khawaja and Maasuma al-Sayed, pending trial on charges of "taking part in (illegal) assemblies on Budaiya highway and assaulting a female police officer", BNA state news agency said.

It said a lawsuit was being prepared to bring the two women to the criminal court.

But the two women have so far refused to leave prison, insisting on taking out with them another woman whom they found in custody, according to Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

He said that the woman, Fathia Abdali Hayat, was arrested in September and accused of sheltering protesters, and the two others found her behind bars at Issa Town police station.

One of several video clips showing Khawaja's arrest generated nearly 173,000 hits since Thursday. It showed the Shiite activist refusing to stand up and leave a roundabout following a sit-in that was dispersed by police.

The footage showed her being handcuffed by a policewoman.

Another female member of the security forces appears to grab Khawaja's face violently, before both then dragged her to a police vehicle.

One of the policewomen can be seen punching Khawaja in the chest as she lay on her back on the pavement.

The mother of a one-year-old child and whose husband Wafi al-Majed is in prison along with her father, leading opponent Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Zainab al-Khawaja is known on the social network Twitter as "Angry Arabiya."

She tweeted from the roundabout before her arrest, saying she was chanting "Down, down (King) Hamad" and that a "few girls" have joined her while "riot police don't seem to know what to do."

Shiite youth groups had called for a series of consecutive protests on the highway which links Shiite villages with Manama's former Pearl Square, the focal point of a month-long pro-democracy uprising that was crushed in March.

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