Newspapers with headlines reporting Bahrain has suspended opposition newspaper Al Wasat are seen in a local coffee shop in Manama yesterday. Bahrain suspended the main opposition newspaper after accusing it of falsifying news about recent sectarian unrest and a government crackdown on protests. Image Credit: Reuters

Manama: A Bahraini court on Wednesday charged the former editors of Al Wasat newspaper with publishing false information.

The Bahrain's High Criminal Court said that Mansoor Al Jamri, editor in chief, Waledd Nuwaihedh, managing editor, Aqeel Mirza, local news editor, and Ali Al Shareefi, senior editor, published false information on four occasions during the period of unrest in Bahrain.

However, the three defendants present at the pre-trial session denied the charges. Al Shareefi is being tried in absentia.

The court said that the first session of the trial would be on June 15.

Al Wasat was taken to court by the Information Affairs Authority for publishing "false news based on events that never happened in Bahrain and names of fictitious people allegedly ill-treated by the police".

The daily was also accused of using old articles in its coverage of the unrest that has hit Bahrain since mid-February.

Al Wasat started publishing in 2002, shortly after King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa launched political reforms that allowed the local media more freedom in their reporting and analyses. However, Al Wasat was the first daily to use the opportunity to engage in bold reporting.

The newspaper in 2009 won the Bahrain e-Content Award for its improved website and Forbes Middle East ranked it 15th in the top-50 online newspapers in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region for 2010.

Bahrain has five dailies in Arabic and two in English.