'Fake news': Bahrain detains lawyer for anti-government tweets

'Fake news': Bahrain detains lawyer for anti-government tweets
Rights groups have voiced concern for lawyer Abdullah Hashim, who the Bahraini authorities allege has spread public disorder with critical tweets
2 min read
16 May, 2019
Abdullah Hashim tweeted his summons for interrogation on Wednesday [Getty]
Bahrain has arrested a prominent lawyer and human rights campaigner, alleging he has misused his social media account to publish "fake news" that poses a threat to the public order, its public prosecution service said in a statement on Wednesday.

The prosecution did not name the individual in its statement, but the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy identified him as lawyer and human rights campaigner Abdullah Hashim, who'd tweeted early Wednesday that he'd been summoned by prosecutors.

"I received a summons from the Public Prosecutor's Office for questioning at 10:30 this morning," tweeted Hashim.

"It will likely centre around the views I recently posted on Twitter about national and community issues," he added.

Prosecutors say they found a long history of comments on his Twitter account that question the state and its ability to maintain security and protect the public.

The rights group says it confirmed that prosecutors also ordered the lawyer be detained for one week, describing it as a continuation of the government's ruthless crackdown on all forms of dissent.

Hashim's case echoes that of prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who in December lost his final appeal against a five-year jail term for writing tweets deemed offensive to the state.

Bahrain's prosectution has accused Rajab, a founder and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights who has been in jail since mid-June 2016, of "publishing and broadcasting fake news that undermines the prestige of the state".

The charges are in part based on a TV interview Rajab gave where he said the government bars journalists and rights researchers from visiting Bahrain, recruits "mercenaries" into its security forces, and that security forces subject detainees to torture.

A more recent concern for human rights is Bahrain's reinstatement of the death penalty. Eight people are currently on death row, many of whom have undergone trials marred by allegations of severe torture. 

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called for the death penalty to be revoked, following the upholding of death sentences for two young men found guilty of terror-related offences in a mass trial earlier this year.

The families of the convicted men, Ali al-Arab, 25, and Ahmad al-Malali, 24, claim their confessions were extracted under torture.

"Despite its rhetoric on reform, Bahrain is moving in the wrong direction by reinstating the death penalty," said Lama Fakih, Human Rights Watch's acting Middle East director.

"This irreversible punishment is cruel in all cases, but all the more so here amid evidence that the accused were tortured and denied fair trials," she added.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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