Bahrain: opposition leader Sheikh Salman's new nine-year sentence is 'shocking'
Sheikh ‘Ali Salman's nine-year sentence follows an extension from four years, as well as a retrial
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‘Sheikh Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience’ - Samah Hadad
A nine-year prison sentence against the Bahraini opposition leader Sheikh 'Ali Salman was upheld today by a Bahraini Appeal Court after a retrial, in another blow to freedom of expression in the country.
In response to the verdict Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director of Campaigns, said:
“Today’s shocking verdict is another example of Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for the right to freedom of expression.
“Sheikh 'Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience. He has been put behind bars merely for peacefully reaffirming his party’s determination to pursue power in Bahrain, to achieve the reform demands of the 2011 uprising and to hold those responsible for human rights violations to account.
“Instead of punishing him for peaceful criticism the Bahraini authorities must order his immediate and unconditional release.
“The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to the Bahraini authorities’ relentless persecution of government critics and human rights activists with the sole purpose of crushing any form of peaceful dissent or opposition to the government.”
Sheikh Salman is the secretary general of the main opposition party in Bahrain, al-Wefaq national Islamic Society, which was dissolved by the Bahraini authorities in July. Following his sentencing last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also called on the Bahraini authorities to ensure Salman’s immediate release. An initial four-year-sentence against Salman was more than doubled to nine years during the first appeal. In October, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation had rejected the extension of the sentence and ordered a retrial.
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