A prominent Bahraini rights activist, who already faces many years in jail for campaigning against the ruling authorities and their Saudi allies, now faces new charges after writing in a US daily from confinement about the regime’s repression.
Nabeel Rajab has been repeatedly detained for organizing pro-democracy demonstrations and publishing Twitter posts deemed “insulting” to the Bahraini authorities. The 52-year-old activist was pardoned for health reasons last year, but he was re-arrested last month.
Bahrain’s prosecutors on Monday filed new charges against him afterThe New York Times published an op-ed by him.
The prosecutor of Bahrain’s northern region, Mohammed Salah, said Rajab had been questioned over a complaint from the cybercrime unit accusing him of “publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately broadcast news, statements and false rumors that undermine the kingdom’s prestige and stature.”
In the column, published on Sunday, Rajab addressed readers in the first person, saying he was writing from a “Bahraini jail cell where I have been detained, largely in isolation, since the beginning of summer.”
US-based rights body Human Rights Watch says he already faces up to 12 years in prison over tweets critical of the war on Yemen by Saudi Arabia, an ally of Manama.
The Manama regime has been cracking down harshly on anti-regime protests since February 14, 2011.
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.