Bahrain’s al-Wefaq National Islamic Society has denied Bahraini prosecutors’ charges against the opposition bloc’s secretary general, Sheikh Ali Salman.
“There is no real case against Salman,” the opposition bloc said in a statement, which was issued on Monday, adding that “his trial and arrest lack legal and moral justifications”.
Al-Wefaq further described the charges against Sheikh Salman as unrealistic.
Earlier in the day, Bahraini prosecutors charged the opposition leader with attempted regime change despite persistent international calls for his release.
Bahrain public prosecutor said the al-Wefaq secretary general’s case has been referred to the high criminal court.
Nayef Mahmud said in a statement that Sheikh Salman will be put on trial on January 28 for plotting to topple the Al Khalifa regime.
Salman was arrested on December 28 after government in Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, charges that Salman and his party have vehemently denied.
The opposition leader is also accused of inciting hatred and disobedience in his public statement. The prosecutor has also claimed that Salman has confessed under questioning to be engaged in some anti-government plots.
Salman’s arrest has triggered massive condemnation inside and outside the monarchy, with leaders, governments and international organizations across the world calling for his immediate release. The move has also sparked almost daily protests in the Shia-majority Persian Gulf kingdom with many people warning the government about the dire consequences of Salman’s prolonged detention.
A host of countries and international organizations have condemned Salman’s arrest.
On Wednesday, the United States also slammed the detention of the opposition leader in the Persian Gulf country, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet and also houses the headquarters of the US Naval Forces Central Command in the region.
“We are concerned that this action against a senior leader of the opposition will only inflame tensions,” the State Department said in a statement which was issued on Wednesday.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Western governments on Sunday to break their silence on Bahrain’s continued detention of opposition figures.
Joe Stork, who serves as the deputy director of HRW for MENA region, described the Al Khalifa regime as a “serial offender” in prosecuting the “peaceful critics,” noting that Salman’s arrest was a “calculated move” to give the signal to the world that the regime is fundamentally opposed to political reconciliation and people’s rights for freedom and democracy.
Bahrain has arrested tens of activists and opposition figures over the past months.
The HRW official called on Manama to immediately release Salman as the government has “failed” to provide evidence that he has really collaborated with foreign elements in an attempt to change the regime.
Bahrain, a close ally of the United States in the region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011.
Bahraini forces have killed close to 90 activists over the past three years while hundreds of protesters as well as notable opposition figures continue to remain under arrest in the regime’s notorious prisons.