Saeed sat down with National Journal to discuss her experience in Bahrain and what she feels the U.S. can do about it. Below is the edited interview.
NJ: Since the protests in 2011, has the state of journalism in Bahrain improved?
SAEED: It's not good. The situation has gotten more difficult for us as journalists to work on the ground. The freedom of speech is very much not free. And we are struggling to do our jobs as independent journalists. There is pro-government and state TV and radio, which tell the government's side of the story and nothing of the other side. For us as independents, we have to do both. We have a lot of challenges to face, and we don't get the space that we can really work.
Media personnel were sacked from their jobs in 2011, and they haven't been back yet to their jobs. Half of them have been arrested and questioned. And half of those who have been arrested have been mistreated and tortured, and I was one of them.
NJ: Who was targeted after the 2011 protests?
SAEED: A lot of opposition, doctors, teachers, professional athletes have been targeted and put in jail, and accused of being part of a movement to overthrow the regime, as being terrorists, as being aligned with Iran. The journalists were attacked because they were, according to the government, not neutral and lying in their reports.
In my case, I was accused of being on the media side of a terrorist cell, lying in my reports, and working for Iranian and Lebanese channels, which I have never worked with. I have been working with TV and radio in France.
NJ: I see that 20 American lawmakers have sent a letter to the king of Bahrain, calling on him to allow a U.N. special rapporteur on torture. But what can the U.S. do about this? Is there anything this country can do or should do?
SAEED: While I was in custody, I was exposed to torture, and there's an investigation open by the Ministry of the Interior to look into this incident. But I never heard results. So, I had to file a case against six torturers. Only one was transferred to the courts, and she was acquitted last October. I appealed the verdict. She was acquitted three weeks ago again. I am now appealing again, but I haven't heard from the prosecution if they can accept my appeal or not.
What I need from the U.S. is to put pressure on my government so I can have a fair trial and an impartial investigation. Not only in my case, but there is a lot of cases where the victims don't feel justice. They don't feel there was a fair trial. America is an ally to my government. I don't think they want to be an ally to this kind of system that doesn't at least provide justice for its citizens.
Talking about it out loud is not going to harm U.S. policy. I don't want to bring arms into the country to force them to implement recommendations or even to change the system or change the regime. If this is going to happen, it should happen democratically with the people. To put the pressure and talk about it out loud is not going to harm anybody.