Amnesty urges immediate release of Bahraini opposition leader


Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of jailed Bahraini opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman amid continued protests in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The London-based rights group said in a Tuesday statement that the Al Khalifa regime should drop the charges against the secretary general of al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest opposition, and release him without delay.

It described the detention of Salman as “a flagrant violation of his right to freedom of expression.”

The cleric has been in jail since December 28 last year on several counts of charges, including subversion.

Bahrain’s opposition groups also have condemned the mover as “unconstitutional.”

In a joint statement on January 6, several movements, including the National Democratic Action Society and the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, said that the arrest of Salman was aimed at “targeting the principle of political activities.”

The European Union also has warned that Sheikh Salman’s arrest will worsen Bahrain’s already fragile political and security situation.

Meanwhile, Bahraini protesters held fresh rallies in solidarity the cleric on Tuesday.

They say the rallies will continue until the Al Khalifa regime sets free Sheikh Salman.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power. Scores of people have been killed and thousands more wounded during the anti-regime demonstrations.

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