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Bahrain Crackdown: Rights Groups Urge Releasing Nabeel Rajab Ahead Of Court Ruling

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Local Editor

Dozens of human rights groups urged Bahraini authorities to release prominent opposition figure and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who is due to stand trial later this month, as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its crackdown on political dissidents in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

In an open letter addressed to Bahraini officials, the group demanded to “quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him.”

The letter also asked for an independent investigation into the mistreatment of the 53-year-old president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in detention, besides as an end to all abuses against Bahraini rights campaigners and journalists.

“We are concerned that the authorities intend to increase Rajab’s prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31 December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations,” the rights groups noted in their letter.

On February 21, a court in Bahrain sentenced the distinguished human rights activist to five years in prison over tweets deemed critical of the Manama regime and the deadly Saudi-led war against Yemen.

Bahrain’s Court of Cassation, which has the ultimate say in the case of appeals in the country, is expected to rule on Rajab’s appeal against the 5-year prison sentence on December 31.

The same court also upheld a two-year jail sentence against Rajab on January 15.

He faces a further 15 years in prison over a separate set of charges related to his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah family and Wahhabism.

On December 22, 2016, Bahraini authorities accused Rajab of making comments that “harm the interests” of the Manama regime and other Persian Gulf kingdoms through an article attributed to him and published by French daily Le Monde.

Rajab, who was detained on June 13, 2016 for tweets that criticized Manama’s role in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, could face up to 15 years in jail.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team