News Release ~ 04/20/2011

National Criminal Defense Bar Condemns Arrest of Human Rights Lawyer in Bahrain

Washingtion, DC (April 20, 2011) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) strongly condemns the late-night arrest of prominent human rights and criminal defense lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on April 15, as reported by Human Rights Watch this week. Masked men are also said to have seized Mr. al-Tajer’s personal computers, mobile phones and documents. NACDL urges the Bahrain government to release Mr. al-Tajer immediately along with his personal effects, which may contain attorney-client privileged information.

Mohammed al-Tajer is well-known for his representation of opposition party members arrested in security sweeps. Last fall, he was lead defense counsel for a team of criminal defense lawyers representing 23 opposition leaders and activists arrested and charged under Bahrain’s antiterrorism laws. Charges against the detainees were eventually dropped, but some of the defendants have been rearrested in recent sweeps.

Mr. Al-Tajer’s wife reportedly told Human Rights Watch that her husband was taken away in a police car, but she has not heard where he was taken. A virtual news blackout in Bahrain imposed by military authorities makes the al-Tajer’s plight, and that of perhaps hundreds of others detained without charges, difficult to remedy.

NACDL condemns Mr. al-Tajer’s arrest and the seizure of privileged materials in the strongest possible terms. Government intimidation and interference with criminal defense lawyers is unacceptable in all its forms, and it fundamentally undermines justice. Mr. al- Tajer's arrest without charges offends justice and subverts the rule of law.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 9,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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