According to Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers and a social media statement published by his family on 4 July, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is under investigation.
On 3 July, Rajab had his last hearing on the case related to press interviews he attended in 2015 and 2016, under the charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermine the prestige of the state”. Neither him, nor his lawyers attended the trial however. The lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Rajab’s absence. Rajab is still at the MOI hospital recovering from a major surgery he has sustained in April. Despite his doctor’s statement at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hospital that he cannot be discharged, the judge went ahead with the hearing, allegedly without his lawyers defence plea being heard by the court.
Nabeel Rajab is the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and a prominent human rights defender, that has spoken out nationally and internationally against human right violations in the Kingdom. The Bahraini authorities have unlawfully detained Rajab for more than a year now, and subjected him to solitary confinement for most part of his time in jail. His charges were based on press interviews criticizing the ban on foreign press in Bahrain in 2015 and 2016, and on alleged tweets and retweets concerning the use of torture against political prisoners, and the war in Yemen led by a Gulf coalition including Bahrain. He faces three year-imprisonment for the case related to press interviews, and 15 years for the case on tweets and retweets.
Rajab’s pretrial detention has been marred by allegations of mistreatment. His health has gravely deteriorated while in solitary confinement. On 5 April Rajab underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers. Shortly after he was sent back to solitary confinement where he developed an infection. On 8 April he was rushed back to the MOI hospital. The Bahraini authorities have denied him access to his family for almost two weeks, as well as cutting off communication with his lawyers.
BCHR urges the international community to call on Bahrain to release Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders and activists from unlawful detention for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and of expression.