Top Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab sentenced to two years imprisonment

Top Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab sentenced to two years imprisonment
The prominent Bahraini activist has been sentenced on Monday to two years in prison - a verdict that rights groups say is part of a years-long crackdown on dissent.
2 min read
10 July, 2017
Rajab also faces trial for a series of tweets criticising military campaign in Yemen [AFP]
Prominent activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced on Monday to two years in jail after a Bahraini court found him guilty of spreading "fake news", according to a judicial source.

Rajab was convicted on charges related to TV interviews he gave in which prosecutors allege he disseminated rumours and false news relating to the situation inside Bahrain.

He was found guilty of "of disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status", the official BNA news agency reported.

Rajab, 52, was sentenced in absentia as he has been hospitalised since April, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

The verdict was immediately condemned by Bahraini and international human rights groups.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy denounced the verdict, saying Rajab had been sentenced "for speaking to journalists" and that he had "spent over a year in pre-trial detention, largely in solitary confinement".

"His lawyers state he was denied basic fair trial guarantees," the group said in a statement.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) denounced the court outcome.

"It's not only Nabeel Rajab: This outrageous sentence against someone speaking the truth exhibits the brutality of the Bahraini government and its heinous crimes and that of its kangaroo court," he said.

"This shames Bahrain's rulers and happens because the Al Khalifa feel there will be no consequences for their brutal abuses."

Amnesty International also strongly condemned the ruling in a statement issued by its secretary general Salil Shetty.

"Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism," Shetty said.

"Nabeel Rajab should be commended for shedding light on allegations of serious human rights abuses; instead, Bahrain's government and judiciary have once again tightened their chokehold on freedom of expression and branded him a criminal.

"No one should be jailed for speaking out about human rights."

Rajab also faces trial for a series of tweets criticising a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, with a hearing due on August 7, according to the Bahrain Institute. He may face up to 15 years if convicted in that trial.

His case drew particular attention because he helped lead Bahrain's 2011 Arab Spring protests, when tens of thousands of Shias took to the streets to demand a greater say in government from the Sunni monarchy.