Bahrain: Drop Charges Against Human Rights Activist Nabeel Rajab
London, 20 January 2015
The six-month prison sentence handed down today to prominent Bahraini activist and internationally recognized human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for insulting public institutions via Twitter is a gross violation of the right to freedom of expression, PEN International said today.
On 1 October 2014, Rajab presented himself to Bahrain’s General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) upon receiving a summons for questioning, where he was arrested after hours of interrogation regarding one of his tweets. Rajab had just returned to Bahrain from a months-long advocacy tour, which included appearances at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Parliament in Brussels, as well as meetings with foreign ministries throughout Europe. Charged with insulting public institutions under article 216 of Bahrain’s penal code, Rajab was granted bail on 2 November 2014, but was banned from leaving the country. He now has to pay 200 BHD (£350) bail in order to remain out of prison until the appeal. Nabeel Rajab was freed in May 2014 after spending two years in prison for taking part in “illegal gatherings”.
On 19 January PEN International co-signed a joint letter strongly condemning the politically motivated prosecution of and judicial attack against Nabeel Rajab. PEN International calls on the Government of Bahrain to drop all charges against him, and to immediately and unconditionally release all those currently detained in the Kingdom of Bahrain solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.
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