Bahrain has sentenced prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison over tweets deemed critical of the Manama regime and the deadly Saudi-led war against Yemen.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday that Rajab was found guilty of spreading false rumors and insulting a neighboring state — a veiled reference to Saudi Arabia.
The charges leveled against the activist cited laws which bar “insulting a neighboring country” and “insulting national institutions,” Reuters reported.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), two leading rights groups, confirmed the sentence handed down to Rajab.
The campaigner’s Twitter account posted a photo showing him smiling and flashing the victory sign after the verdict was announced.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist with BIRD, accused courts of “curtailing freedom of expression by deterring Bahraini citizens from criticizing its 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,” he added.
Brian Dooley, a senior adviser at the US-based group Human Rights First, called on the US administration to show “some spine in standing up to the dictatorship in Bahrain.—Agencies