Bahraini rights leader convicted over tweets
Published Monday, July 9, 2012
A leading Bahraini human rights activist was sentenced to three months in jail on Monday for tweets deemed offensive to the country's autocratic rulers.
Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center of Human Rights (BCHR), was rearrested on Monday afternoon.
He wrote on Twitter that Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa should step down, as well as saying the people of the pro-regime town Muharraq residents had only welcomed him during a visit because he had offered them subsidies.
He was later charged with questioning the patriotism of the residents of the town.
Leading activist Zainab al-Khawaja was a witness to the arrest, telling Al-Akhbar that masked riot police had arrived at his house and forcibly arrested him in front of his children.
"I was with him before and he had his things ready. When they came to the house he was telling them 'wait I will finish, I am going to the bathroom and then I will come'," she said.
"But they didn't want to wait and they came inside the house and arrested him in front of his 10-year-old daughter."
Al-Khawaja later tweeted a photo appearing to show him being arrested, but which could not be independently verified.
— angry arabiya (@angryarabiya) July 9, 2012
Rajab has been arrested a number of times by Bahraini authorities since a pro-democracy uprising began in February 2011 against the ruling al-Khalifa family.
He was detained in June for three weeks for allegedly insulting the people of the province of Muharaq – a largely pro-regime area – on Twitter.
Maryam Al-Khawaja, a senior figure at the BCHR and sister of Zainab, said at the time that the government used the tweet as an excuse to detain Rajab, who has been a key figure in Bahrain's pro-democracy protests over the past year.
"I think they're using that as an excuse to go after him. I don't think he in any way meant to insult the people, his comments were directed at the prime minister," she said.