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Chapter: 

Allegations of privacy infringement and abuses

“Bandar-gate”, 2006 1

Salah Al-Bandar, a British citizen of Sudanese origin, was hired as a consultant by the Government of Bahrain. He reportedly leaked documents alleging the existence of a systematic government plan to limit the influence of Shia opposition groups, including plans to rig elections, create pro-government human rights organisations and fund specific newspapers and online social media tools and forums. He further alleged that government officials were complicit in maintaining unlawful surveillance programmes directed against opposition political parties and civil organisations. 

Abdul Ghani Al Khanjar , August 2010 to February 2011 2

Bloomberg reports that after three days returning London where he spoke about human rights to a committee at the House of Lords, school administrator and activist Al Khanjar was detained for six months, during which he was repeatedly shown transcripts of his text messages and details of his telephone conversations dating back to 2009. Ahmed Aldoseri of the TRA commented that “If they have a transcript of an SMS message, it’s because the security organ was monitoring the user at their monitoring center.”

March 2012 – Alyaa Mohammed 3

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) reports that in early 2012, 21-year-old business management student, Alyaa Mohammed from the University of Bahrain was interning at a law firm. In March she was she was called in for questioning and was asked if she wrote the phrase “Down with Hamad” on her BlackBerry Messenger in January. “Down Hamad” is a popular phrase among those people who are calling for democratic reform in Bahrain, as the monarchy is headed by King Hamad. Alyaa says that she did write the phrase but that it was referred to her boss at the law firm, also named Hamad. She was repeatedly questioned by the university staff, and blamed for “spreading hate, trying to split the student delegation and planting hatred in the hearts of others”. The BCHR notes that according to legislation, this kind of investigation must be completed within one month. Despite this, Alyaa was given a letter at the end of May stating that she was suspended for a semester due to “phrases that insult His Majesty the King” on her mobile phone and that she had sent them to her female colleagues.