Najah Yusuf, the activist who was arrested for protesting against the Bahrain Grand Prix almost three years ago, has now been released from prison after receiving a pardon.
Via a Facebook post, Yusuf spoke out against the country hosting a Formula 1 race due to its continued violation of human rights, and while incarcerated pleaded with Liberty Media to recognise the ramifications of their support for the regime.
The 2011 Bahrain GP was cancelled amid political unrest across the Middle East, and the race continues to go ahead today despite the high-profile detention of those who have protested amid accusations of ‘sportswashing’.
Yusuf, a mother of four children, has been pardoned under a concession ahead of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha, on Sunday, and is the first political prisoner to be released since 2011.
While in jail she claims she has been subjected to beatings, torture, and sexual assault, as she detailed for the Guardian in March.
She said: “Every moment I spend in prison in Bahrain stains the reputation of Formula One.”
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) were the main champions of Yusuf’s release, and their campaign became a success when she was one of 105 inmates of Isa Town prison to be given their freedom.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadei, the director of advocacy at BIRD, said: “This is a monumental result for those who tirelessly campaigned to secure Najah’s release. Najah Yusuf is a fearless woman who bravely spoke out about the abuse she was subjected to at the hands of the Bahraini security apparatus.
“She should not have spent one second in prison, and must now be fully compensated for her unlawful imprisonment.”
Just this week reports suggest that F1 is mulling over hosting a race in Saudi Arabia from 2021, another country with questions to answer regarding humans and press freedom.