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After Two Years in Hiding, Bahraini Blogger Ali Abdulemam Flees to London

Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam surfaced in London, after escaping from Bahrain, where he has been in hiding for two years. In absentia, Abdulemam, 35 years old, was slapped with a 15-year prison sentence for belonging to a terror organisation and for seeking to topple the government.

The Atlantic details his escape from Bahrain in a secret car compartment through the causeway which links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. From there, Ali fled to Kuwait, and was then smuggled by fishermen into Iraq. He then travelled from Basra to Najaf and boarded an Iraqi Airways flight to London, where he was granted political asylum.

The founder of locally-censored Bahrain Online, Abdulemam is also a contributor to Global Voices Advocacy, our free speech defence arm.

Abdulemam's story has been the talk of the netizens since it's details were unveiled.

From Bahrain, Ahmed Ali says:

@ahmedali_: Ali Abduleman is sadly not the first person to have found himself obliged to escape his country. Nor will [he] be the last.

Zuhair Al Ghatam shares a concern many have:

سعادتي بسلامته وطمأنة عائلته ومقدرتهم ع رؤيته ومحادثته وتواجده لخدمة الثورة لاتوصف لكني لا زلت مستغرب لماذا تم نشر قصة هروبه؟

@z_alghatam: My happiness with the safety of Ali and the reassurance of his family and their ability to see and speak to him as well as his appearance to serve the revolution cannot be described. But I am still surprised why the details of his escape have been published.

He continues:

ربما تكون قصة هروب أثبتت مدى هشاشة مباحث أمن الدولة ولكنها قد تكون بداية معاقبة المسافرين في زيادة التمحيص والتدقيق

@z_alghatam: Perhaps the story of Ali Abdulemam's escape showcases how fragile the state security apparatus is but it is also the beginning of punishing all travelers by increasing security procedures

And Hussain Yousif, a co-founder of Bahrain Online, who is also in exile, warns:

إلى أحبتنا وإخوتنا المختفين والمطاردين في البحرين، أرجو أن لا تجركم الفرحة بخروج عزيزنا وصديقنا علي عبدالإمام إلى التفريط في شيئ من احتياطكم

@hussain_info: To our dear [friends] in hiding and being hunted [by the authorities], I hope that your happiness with the escape of our beloved friend Ali Abdulemam doesn't let you put your guard down

Turning attention to the UK, Freedom Prayers, from Bahrain, tweets:

@FreedomPrayers: #Bahrain king had a meeting #UK queen today. Had she inform him that her country granted political asylum to his opponent blogger?

She adds:

@FreedomPrayers: If #UK willing to give political asylum to those #Bahrain accuse with terrorism, why not tell it to stop fake trials & release detainees?

And continues, in a tweet to the UK Foreign Office, saying:

@FreedomPrayers: . @foreignoffice there r 1500+ political detainees in #Bahrain like @abdulemam , will u give political asylum to them all? Ur best efforts?

All Smiles. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam arrives at Gatwick Airport in London. Photograph shared on Twitter by @alaashehabi

All Smiles. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam arrives at Gatwick Airport in London. Photograph shared on Twitter by @alaashehabi

@alaashehabi: Photo of @abdulemam just after he arrived in Gatwick airport safe & sound after a long journey out of #Bahrain

Others, like prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, have other concerns [ar]:

صديقي المناضل البحريني علي عبد الامام بعد سنوات من الاختفاء تمكن من الخروج من البحرين، المفروض نباركله على الحرية ولا نواسيه على المنفى؟

@alaa: My friend Bahraini freedom fighter Ali Abdulemam has escaped Bahrain after [two] years in hiding. Are we supposed to congratulate him on his freedom or console him on his exile?

And, from the US, Josh Shahryar wonders:

@JShahryar: I wonder what Obama thinks about Ali @Abdulemam‘s escape from. Maybe thank god he wasn't arrested and tortured by his friends?

Meanwhile, Abdulemam is scheduled to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum on Wednesday:

@OsloFF: Blogger Ali @Abdulemam, missing since March 2011, has escaped Bahrain and will speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum on Wednesday May 15

This will be Abdulemam's first public appearance since going into hiding.

On YouTube, RevolutionMCBahrain shares this video, showing Abdulemam's first video interview, after his escape:

In it, the blogger pledges to continue working towards promoting freedom of speech and his online activism “until the people's demands are met.”

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