Bahraini human rights activist sentenced to jail for five years for ‘insulting’ tweets

Vastavam web: A Bahraini human rights activist was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture, his lawyer and fellow activists said.The United States, which has a major naval base in the country, has expressed concern about the case of Nabeel Rajab, a leading figure in pro-democracy protests that swept Bahrain in 2011, who was already serving a two-year sentence over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political prisoners.

The Bahraini Embassy in London said the prosecution and Rajab’s defence team had had ample opportunity to present their cases.“The trials for the cases were overseen by numerous observers, including representatives from foreign embassies and NGOs,” the embassy said in a statement.Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist with the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said Bahraini courts were barring citizens from criticising the authorities.

“Instead of rewarding Nabeel Rajab for his brave and commendable exposure of human rights abuses and advocacy for peace, the authorities have chosen to punish the messenger.”Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa Heba Morayef, said: ”It is absolutely outrageous that he (Rajab) be forced to spend a further five years in jail simply for daring to voice his opinions online.”

Bahrain has cracked down on perceived threats since Arab Spring protests in 2011 led mainly by majority Shi‘ite Muslims, were quashed with help from Gulf Arab neighbours.