AUTHORITIES have slammed claims made by a human rights group that two illegal residents have gone on hunger strike after being stranded in Bahrain due to travel bans.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society alleged that Briton Paul Johnstone and American Hugh Sylvester should have been released months ago after being jailed for 10 days last year for not having valid residence permits.
However, the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (GDNPR) denied the accusations and described the hunger strike claims as "baseless".
It said the men were behind bars for several civil and criminal court cases, which involved debts worth thousands of dinars.
"We reject claims they went on hunger strike which are as baseless," it said in a statement yesterday.
"They are under observation of guards and receive complete health care.
"The men have refused to leave the shelter centre (detention centre) as they claimed they had no other place to live and insisted on staying."
The GDNPR urged societies and groups to contact it prior to issuing statements to the Press which "distort facts that tarnish Bahrain's reputation".
It explained that Mr Sylvester was banned from travelling following 13 civil cases against him for financial claims totalling BD88,453.
"He was sentenced to a month in jail and deported for three years after serving his prison sentence," added the statement.
"The American also issued a dud cheque with ill-intention and was staying in the country illegally.
"He also has eight criminal cases filed against him."
The statement also elaborated on Mr Johnstone's case, who was blacklisted following seven civil cases for financial claims totalling BD79,533.
He was also sentenced to six months in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol which resulted in the death of two people, it added.
"The British national was also sentenced to 10 days for illegal stay and deportation for three years after serving his prison sentence," it said.
"He has 13 criminal cases filed against him."
It added that the travel bans were issued against the two men by a special court and the directorate was an authority that just carries out orders.