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UAE and Bahrain Uphold Stiff Prison Sentences against Mansoor and Rajab: The Washington Post

2019-01-03 - 10:14 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Washington Post newspaper said that courts in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on Monday upheld the convictions of two prominent human rights activists Nabeel Rajab and Ahmed Mansoor.

The newspaper indicated that court decisions, issued in two Gulf monarchies that the Trump administration considers among its closest Arab allies. The decisions were condemned by human rights groups as unacceptable attacks on free speech. The cases also highlight the increasingly aggressive policing of social media by several of the Gulf States, which have punished people for criticizing their governments and allied foreign countries.  

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East Research director, said in a statement: "The decision to uphold Nabeel Rajab's conviction and five-year sentence simply for posting tweets expressing his opinions, exposes Bahrain's justice system as a complete farce."

The Washington Post said that prosecution of Rajab is part of a years-long crackdown on dissenters and political opponents that began when Bahrain's monarchy forcefully suppressed a pro-democracy uprising in 2011 with the help of troops from other gulf states. Rajab has been a frequent target of the authorities.

In the United Arab Emirates, the Federal Supreme Court on Monday upheld Mansoor's 10-year sentence for "defaming" the country on social media, according to Human Rights Watch. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $272,000 and will remain under surveillance for three years after his release, according to the National, an Emirati newspaper.

Mansoor is a past recipient of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, which is given annually by a jury composed of 10 leading international human rights groups. A biography of Mansoor on the Martin Ennals award site called him "one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the country."

The Trump administration has sought to strengthen its alliance with Bahrain and its gulf neighbors as part of the U.S. strategy to counter Iran, while avoiding arguments with them over human rights.

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