A team of British journalists made a hasty exit from Bahrain Sunday, after police discovered they were in the country on a tourist visa, chased them down and deported them, the team’s TV station reported.
Jonathan Miller, of Channel Four News, and his crew were denied journalism visas by Bahrain, Channel Four News reported, but the group continued to film protests without official accreditation. The 14-month-old uprising in Bahrain had heated up before the Formula One Grand Prix race.
Protesters in the tiny monarchy threatened “days of rage” to coincide with the race. A number of media outlets reported they were denied visas on race days.
When authorities discovered the news team in the country, they were chased by a helicopter and police cars, arrested and deported. Miller tweeted the experience.
The Bahrain government defended the deportation telling the BBC that Miller and his team should have gotten a proper journalist visa. However, one British journalist questioned the validity of the government’s message.
“Amused to hear (on BBC) #Bahrain gov criticise deported C4 news team by saying could have got proper journo visa like BBC, CNN,” BBC Middle East correspondent Paul Danahar wrote on Twitter. “My BBC News team (ie not sports team) in #Bahrain got 72 hour non-extendable visa & had to leave Thursday, 3 days before the race.”
I’ve been released with my crew. Breakneck drive to Bahrain airport in police van. Being deported now.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 22, 2012
My cameraman @joesheffer entertained Bahraini cops by winding them up in Arabic - he & my producer Dave Fuller fine travelling companions— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 22, 2012
C4 Three being deported from Bahrainrefused permission to board aircraft by British Airways security and Captain. Plane gone without us.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 22, 2012
Channel 4 crew being deported from Bahrain wish to thank British Airways for leaving us stranded, refusing permission to board. Cheers BA.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 22, 2012
My amazing driver, Ali, has been released.So has Dr Ala’a Shehabi who was with us in the crazed helicopter and car chase. Big relief.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 23, 2012
OK... Channel 4 Three finally being deported aboard a non-British airline. Goodbye Bahrain. I met some lovely people but not many were cops.— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) April 23, 2012