Bahrain urged to release prominent rights activist Rajab

Human Rights Watch says authorities should release him immediately after arrest over social media comments
Bahrain urged to release prominent rights activist Rajab
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. (Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Sat 04 Apr 2015 01:06 AM

Bahraini authorities have been urged to release the prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab over his allegations on social media of torture in a Bahraini prison.

Human Rights Watch said authorities should release him immediately and drop all charges that violate his right to free expression.

The rights group said it had seen a video showing Rajab reading aloud from the arrest warrant presented to him during his arrest. In the video, he says that the warrant is related to his tweets about Jaw Prison and his accusation that prison authorities tortured prisoners.

The Interior Ministry announced on Twitter on Thursday that Rajab had been arrested for “publishing information that would harm the civil peace and insulting a statutory body.” This is the second time in six months that authorities have arrested Rajab for criticising the government.

“Bahraini authorities should be investigating these allegations of torture in Jaw Prison, not arresting people who raise concerns about it,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

“Bahrain’s allies, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, should call for Rajab’s release without delay.”

Rajab has also alleged that security forces used excessive force to quell unrest at Jaw Prison on March 10.

Bahrain authorities have previously prosecuted Rajab on politically motivated charges. On October 1, 2014, authorities arrested and charged Rajab with “offending national institutions”. He was sentenced to six months in prison on January 20, but had been out on bail pending an appeal.

Human Rights Watch said authorities earlier held Rajab from May 5 to May 28, 2012, for Twitter remarks criticizing the Interior Ministry for failing to investigate attacks by what Rajab alleged were pro-government gangs against Shia residents.

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