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Fri 3 Apr 2015 12:59 AM

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Bahrain arrests activist Nabeel Rajab over tweets

Interior ministry says arrest made over Twitter comments seen as 'harmful' to civil peace

Bahrain arrests activist Nabeel Rajab over tweets
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. (Getty Images)

Bahrain police arrested prominent democracy activist Nabeel Rajab on Thursday for comments he made on his Twitter account seen as "harmful" to civil peace, the kingdom's interior ministry said.

Rajab took a leading role in Shi'ite-led mass demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011 which asked for reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab state, inspired by other pro-democracy uprisings in the Arab world.

"Nabeel Rajab arrested after publishing information that would harm the civil peace and insulting a statutory body in violation of the law," the interior ministry said on its Twitter account on Thursday.

Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, is appealing after being convicted in January of publicly insulting two state institutions.

"About 20 cars surrounded our house today and the police came in and told us they were arresting Nabeel for some comments on his Twitter account criticizing torture in prisons," his wife Sumaia Rajab told Reuters, adding that Rajab had been taken in for questioning.

It was unclear which Tweets had lead to Thursday's arrest.

Rajab was jailed in May 2012 on charges of organising and participating in illegal protests and released two years later.

Bahrain, where the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based, quelled the 2011 protests but has since struggled to resolve political deadlock between the government and the opposition.

Many Shi'ites complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the authorities deny.