Bahrain’s top court upholds sentence against activist Nabeel Rajab, says lawyer

File picture shows Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab (left) sitting with Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq opposition group leader Sheikh Ali Salman after Rajab arrived home on bail in the village of Bani Jamrah, Manama, November 2, 2014. — AFP pic
File picture shows Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab (left) sitting with Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq opposition group leader Sheikh Ali Salman after Rajab arrived home on bail in the village of Bani Jamrah, Manama, November 2, 2014. — AFP pic

DUBAI, Dec 31 — Bahrain’s high court upheld a five-year jail sentence against activist Nabeel Rajab today for criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture, his lawyer said.

Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shi’ite-majority population, has kept a lid on dissent since the Shi’ite opposition staged a failed uprising in 2011. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states sent in troops to help crush that unrest.

Rajab, a leading figure in the 2011 pro-democracy protests, was sentenced to five years in prison in February for criticising the Saudi air strikes and writing tweets accusing authorities of torture.

He was already serving a two-year term over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political prisoners.

“The Court of Cassation rejected the appeal and upheld the sentence of five years in prison against Nabeel Rajab for his tweets,” his lawyer, Mohamed Al Jishi, told Reuters by phone.

The convictions were for “spreading false news and rumours in time of war”, “insulting foreign countries” and “insulting publicly the interior ministry” in comments posted on Twitter, a court document seen by Reuters showed.

International rights groups denounced the ruling and the United States has expressed concern about Rajab’s case.

Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has closed the main opposition groups, barred their members from running in elections and prosecuted scores of people, many described by human rights groups as activists, in mass trials. — Reuters

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