On 12 July 2016, the trial of the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab begins. Facing charges related to his tweets and retweets critical of Bahrain’s treatment of prisoners and the Saudi-led war in Yemen, Rajab may be sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Human Rights First today urged the government of Bahrain to drop all charges against and immediately release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. This unfounded prosecution constitutes a serious attack on freedom of expression in Bahrain, and occurs against the backdrop of a worsening crackdown on civil society and political dissent.
“We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab, and to drop all charges against him,” right groups claim in their statement.
Rajab is a leading Bahraini human rights defender, well known in the region - and worldwide - for his defense of human rights, and his efforts towards more freedom for all. As a result of his work he has been repeatedly jailed.
Rajab was arrested on 13 June 2016 without any declared reason. He was not informed of his charges until the following day, when he was brought before the public prosecution and officially charged with "spreading false news and rumors about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain." He was then remanded to seven days in custody pending investigation. This charge was in response to statements he gave during past television interviews in early 2015 and 2016.
In prison he has reportedly suffered from medical issues as a result of the poor conditions of detention, and he was held in solitary confinement for a significant period of time following his arrest.
Government officials have not commented publicly on the case but deny systematic abuses of human rights and have accused the opposition of stirring sectarian hatred in the kingdom and serving the interests of their rival, Shi'ite Iran.