Bahrain: postponement of Nabeel Rajab's verdict for sixth time is blatant harassment
Nabeel Rajab has tweeted about torture in Bahrain and civilian deaths in Yemen © Amnesty International
‘This is part of a deliberate strategy to harass him’ - Samah Hadid
In response to news today that the Bahraini authorities have postponed for the sixth time a verdict in the case of the prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Regional office in Beirut said:
“The Bahraini authorities must stop playing games with Nabeel Rajab’s freedom. He has been arrested and released repeatedly over the past five years and has been banned from leaving the country.
“By postponing his trial for a sixth time today they are cruelly stringing him along as punishment for his peaceful activism. Their refusal to release him from custody in December despite a court order suggests this is part of a deliberate strategy to harass him.
“Instead of flouting his rights to freedom of expression and depriving him of his liberty they should end this campaign of harassment, immediately and unconditionally release him, and drop all the charges against him.”
A verdict in a case regarding tweets Nabeel Rajab sent in March 2015 alleging torture in Jaw prison in Bahrain and criticising the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition had been due today. Today’s court session was postponed until 21 February. Mr Rajab is facing charges including “insulting public authorities”, “insulting a foreign country” and “disseminating false rumours in times of war”. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
On 28 December 2016, a Bahraini court ordered Rajab’s release but the authorities refused to release him and instead he was immediately re-arrested and taken into custody in relation to another investigation into TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. Bahrain’s Public Prosecution office had charged him with publishing and disseminating rumours and false news relating to the internal situation in the country. His trial on these charges began today and was itself postponed until 8 February.
Meanwhile, Rajab is also facing separate charges in relation to a piece written in his name in the New York Times newspaper.
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