New hearing set for jailed Bahraini Shia cleric charged of espionage

New hearing set for jailed Bahraini Shia cleric charged of espionage
The announcement of Sheikh Ali Salman's first hearing for spying charges comes as more arrests take place in Bahrain's continuing crackdown on dissent.
2 min read
04 January, 2018
The opposition leader has been targeted by the Khalifa regime's crackdown on Shia dissent [Getty]
A new hearing has been set in the trial of jailed Bahraini opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, on charges of colluding with the kingdom's Gulf rival Qatar to overthrow the Sunni minority government, according to AFP.

The cleric has been behind bars since 2014, serving a nine-year sentence for allegedly inciting hatred.

The Sheikh was charged in November 2017 for espionage on behalf of Qatar, after allegations that he coordinated protests against the Bahraini regime at the behest of Qatar's former premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani. 

Sheikh Ali Hassan was the leader of Bahrain's main opposition group, al-Wefaq, which has since been dissolved by the Bahraini regime.

The Bahraini regime, lead by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty for more than two centuries, has been undertaking a continued crackdown on dissent since the Arab Spring, targeting in particular the Shia majority of its population.

Bahrain's leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, has been under house arrest since 2016 after charges of "serving foreign interests", namely those of Iran, were brought against him. He was also stripped of his Bahraini citizenship.

The crackdown on Shia dissent seems to be intensifying, with another prominent cleric, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Ali, arrested on Wednesday.

Al-Ali is the vice-president of Bahrain’s largest Shia religious and cultural organisation, the Islamic Scholars’ Council, which was dissolved last year by the kingdom’s ministry of justice.

The chairman of the Islamic Scholars' Council, Sayed Majeed al-Meshaal, is also serving a prison sentence.

According to Bahrain's opposition group al-Wefaq, 2017 was one of the bloodiest years in Bahrain's history due to large numbers of extrajudicial killings, death sentences and jail terms issued to political dissidents.

In addition, over 150 Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship and many have been subjected to torture, forced to sign confessions, and put on trial for politically-motivated charges.