Amnesty International has urged authorities in Bahrain to free prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, detained over remarks he posted on Twitter that were regarded as insulting to the regime’s ministries of interior and defense.
“Convicting Nabeel Rajab would be a terrible injustice,” the deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said on Monday, adding, “It would only be further proof that respect for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain is under attack.”
She also denounced prosecuting people for peacefully expressing their political views as “a clear form of repression and a brazen violation of their rights,” and urged Manama to immediately release the activist and drop charges against him.
Rajab, who is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the director of the [Persian] Gulf Center for Human Rights, was arrested on October 1 after posting comments about reports that members of Bahrain’s security forces had joined the ISIL militants in Iraq.
“Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS (ISIL) came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator,” he wrote in one of the tweets.
He has been charged with “publicly insulting official institutions” and is due in court on October 29. Nabeel might be sent to jail for up to three years.
The rights activist was freed in May after serving two years in prison for participating in anti-regime protests.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the Al Khalifa royal family to step down from power. The protesters have also slammed the Manama regime’s arrest and torture of political activists.
Many Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.