Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was taken into custody by Bahraini authorities today after a court sentenced him to three months in prison for allegedly defaming the citizens of the village of Muharraq on Twitter.
On 2 June, Rajab tweeted:
“Khalifa, leave the residents of Al Mahraq, its Sheikhs and its elderly. Everyone knows that you are not popular here, and if there wasn’t a need for money, they wouldn’t have gone out to receive you. When will you step down?”
Masked police officers reportedly took Rajab from his home in the village of Bani Jamra after the guilty verdict was issued:
The news of Rajab’s arrest comes after reports of increased attacks on members of civil society in the gulf kingdom, which has had ongoing unrest since the start of anti-government protests in February last year. Journalist Reem Khalifa, who reports for the Associated Press, said that on 29 June stun grenades were fired directly at her. Khalifa has faced constant harassment as well as death threats for reporting the government’s crackdown on unrest. On 27 June, activist Zainab Alkhawaja was left with a wounded leg after security forces reportedly fired a tear gas canister directly at her while dispersing a demonstration. The activist is the daughter of well-known dissident and founder of BCHR Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is currently serving a life sentence for participating in anti-government protests last year.
According to his lawyer, Rajab’s three weeks in prison in June will be counted in his jail time, and he plans to appeal the charges. The activist is scheduled to stand trial once more on 26 September, on charges of “illegal gathering” and calling for “unauthorised protests”.
Check out our time line of Rajab’s most recent brushes with the law:
Sara Yasin is an Editorial Assistant at Index. She tweets from @missyasin
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