USA 'seriously concerned' over jailing of Bahraini activist

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The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said Rajab was convicted on Wednesday for "disseminating false rumours in time of war", for "offending a foreign country" and for "insulting a statutory body" as codified in the Bahraini criminal code.

"Instead of rewarding Nabeel Rajab for his courageous and commendable exposure of human rights abuses and advocacy for peace, the authorities have chosen to punish the messenger". The repression has presented Washington with one of the most awkward conflicts between its professions of support for human rights and its military commitments in the Persian Gulf.

Yesterday Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the State Department, said officials were "disappointed" by Rajab's convictions and said the U.S. is continuing "conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns".

Amnesty International said it showed Bahrain's "utter contempt for freedom of expression".

"He's a prominent human rights activist. we continue to have conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns about this", Nauert said.

The group also alleged that Rajab had been beaten and subjected to "humiliating and degrading" condition while in detention.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which Rajab co-founded, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) released a joint statement Wednesday saying the charges came over a March 26, 2015 tweet voicing criticism of the "hatred, destruction and horrors" of war. But Rajab was again arrested in June 2016. It took another six months for the prosecutor to investigate and file charges against him, and he later received the two-year sentence.

USA 'seriously concerned' over jailing of Bahraini activist
USA 'seriously concerned' over jailing of Bahraini activist

This criticism led to a two-year prison term that a criminal court imposed in July 2017.

With his latest conviction, Rajab could spend as long as seven years in jail.

However, its Shia majority accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens.

In response, authorities ordered the imprisonment of Rajab, as well as other government critics.

The island has been ruled since 1783 by the Sunni Al Khalifa family.

Authorities in Bahrain, a tiny Shiite-majority kingdom strategically located between Saudi Arabia and Iran, have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since 2011.

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