The trial of the prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to resume on February 21, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. He faces a total of 18 years in prison based on two sets of speech-related charges that clearly violate his right to free expression. His eight months in pretrial custody appeared to amount to arbitrary detention.
Rajab’s initial charges stem from comments critical of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen and of alleged torture in Bahraini prisons. Authorities also charged him with making “false or malicious” statements based on television interviews in which he criticized the Bahraini authorities’ refusal to allow journalists and rights groups into the country.
“What worries Bahrain authorities is the truth,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The reason Nabeel Rajab is in jail and facing a long sentence is that he has insisted on shedding light on Bahrain’s human rights abuses.”
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