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Bahrain: Two-Year Imprisonment for Publishing Rumors and False News

(July 19, 2017) On July 10, 2017, the High Criminal Court in Manama, Bahrain, convicted Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, of “publishing and disseminating rumours and false news” and sentenced him to two years of imprisonment. (Bahrain: Jail Term for Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Exposes Authorities’ Relentless Campaign to Wipe out Dissent, Amnesty International website (July 19, 2017).)

The actions of which Rajab is accused appear to be limited to expressing his political opinions publicly. According to Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, “[i]mprisoning Nabeel Rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism.”  (Id.)

In June 2016, Rajab was arrested for making tweets alleging torture in a Bahraini prison and denouncing the killing of Yemeni civilians in the war waged by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition against Yemen. (Id.)  On December 28, 2016, the court ordered the release of Rajab, apparently while still awaiting trial on these charges, but the government arrested him on new charges related to TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016, accusing him of “insulting public authorities [the Ministry of Interior]” and “insulting a foreign country.”  (Id.)  The trial on these new charges is still pending; the next hearing is scheduled for August 7.  (Id.)