Bahraini Charged over Tweet on Upcoming Elections: AFP

2018-11-15 - 8:02 م

Bahrain Mirror- AFP: Bahrain's public prosecutor on Tuesday detained and charged a man for a tweet saying he would boycott elections this month, with a rights group identifying him as a former lawmaker.

Opposition movements have been outlawed in Bahrain and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned -- with many stripped of their nationality.

Ahead of legislative elections on November 24, Muhanna al-Shayji, the head of Bahrain's electoral crimes unit, said a man had been taken into custody over his Twitter account.

He has been charged with influencing public opinion and "obstructing the electoral process", Shayji said in a statement released by the public prosecutor's office.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy identified the man as Ali Rashed al-Asheeri, a former member of parliament with the now-banned Al-Wefaq opposition group.

Asheeri on Thursday tweeted that he and his family would be boycotting the polls.

"I am a Bahraini citizen deprived of my civil and political rights. My family and I will therefore boycott the parliamentary and municipal elections. No to the laws of political isolation," he wrote.

Bahraini authorities have banned the country's two main opposition groups -- the Shiite Al-Wefaq and secular Waad -- from submitting candidates for parliament.

The Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Bahraini authorities accuses Shiite Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom, an allegation Tehran denies.

Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the Al-Wefaq group, was sentenced to life in prison on November 4 for spying for rival Gulf state Qatar, in a ruling rights groups have called a travesty.

Human rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain -- men and women, religious and secular -- fail to meet the basic standards of fair trials.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch categorise many of those jailed as prisoners of conscience.

Bahrain, a key ally of the United States, is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a permanent British military base.

US President Donald Trump has eased restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain since taking office, which had been tightened over the kingdom's treatment of protesters.

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