Washington Urges Bahrain to Immediately Release Nabeel Rajab
2016-09-08 - 2:00 am
Bahrain Mirror: The United States called on the Bahrain government Tuesday to immediately release detained human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, two days after the New York Times published a letter by Rajab detailing his prosecution for exposing human rights abuses in the country and criticizing the Saudi war in Yemen, reported Time.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the U.S. is "very concerned" about the new charges as well as Rajab's ongoing detention. "We have concerns about the state of human rights in general in Bahrain and we're engaging with the government ... on all these issues," he added.
Addressing the issue, The Atlantic website said: "It's unclear how more charges will affect the potential penalty."
The latest charges against Rajab came Monday after the activist published a "Letter From a Bahraini Jail" in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. Bahraini officials claim the op-ed includes "false news and statements and malicious rumors that undermine the prestige of the kingdom," the NY Times reported.
The prosecutor of the Gulf state's northern region, Mohammed Salah, said a man had been questioned over a complaint from the cybercrime unit accusing him of "publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately broadcast news, statements and false rumors that undermine the kingdom's prestige and stature".
Salah did not identify the man or name the newspaper, but a rights group and a lawyer said the statement clearly referred to Rajab, who had been in jail since June on charges related to anti-government tweets published last year.
Rajab's tweets accused the security forces of torturing detainees, criticized the conditions detainees suffer from in Jaw Prison, and also called for ending the war on Yemen.
US journalist and columnist at the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, had said in a tweet that the repression of King Hamas is what damages the image of Bahrain. Kristof's comments came as after the Bahraini Public Prosecution accused activist Nabeel Rajab of insulting the state's prestige.
Kristof tweeted, "Repressive King Hamad damages the image of Bahrain far more than any human rights activist could in an NYT op-ed".
"This is a country that has subjected its people to imprisonment, torture and even death for daring to desire democracy," Rajab wrote. He also said in his letter to the Times that he had been detained, mostly in isolation, in Bahrain since the beginning of the summer. He stressed that Bahrain had some 4,000 political prisoners and the highest prison population per capita in the Middle East.
Rajab is facing up to 15 years in prison over tweets critical of the government and over which he is facing charges of "publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately broadcast news, statements and false rumors that undermine the kingdom's prestige and stature."
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