Bahrain rights activist jailed for five years for 'insulting' tweets

Bahrain court sentences right activist Nabeel Rajab to 5 years in prison for criticising govt

5 year jail term for Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab

Jailed high-profile Bahraini activist Nabeel rajab was Wednesday sentenced to five more years behind bars over tweets critical of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen war and on the alleged mistreatment of prisoners, in a trial rights groups slammed as "shameful".

Rajab was arrested in June previous year after tweets from his account suggested that security forces had tortured detainees in a Bahraini prison and on a military campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition that includes Bahrain.

Rajab, 53, is now serving a two-year sentence for giving an interview in which he criticized Bahrain.

His Twitter account posted a message on Wednesday saying he entered court with a "cheerful smile" before sentencing.

"The case of Mr Rajab has become a symbol for human rights defenders and respect of freedom of speech, in Bahrain and beyond".

Rajab was found guilty on Wednesday for insulting a neighbouring country and spreading "false news", a judicial source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Amnesty International said the sentence was "absolutely outrageous".

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According to him, government will continue to do everything necessary in partnership with security agencies and the Federal Government to address the situation.

The kingdom's leading human rights groups - the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy - confirmed the charges and sentence.

He was then released in 2014 before being imprisoned again due to Twitter comments.

It is not the first time the activist has been sentenced for a tweet - he was sent to prison for six months in 2015 on similar charges. Prosecutors also investigated the 53-year-old activist for letters he wrote while imprisoned that were later published by newspapers Le Monde and The New York Times.

Rajab has been a critic of the sectarian divide between the majority Shia population and the island's minority, ruling Sunni government. They joined pro-democracy activists in demanding more political freedoms in 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept the wider Middle East. Saudi and Emirati troops ultimately helped violently put down the demonstrations.

Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy.

America has faced criticism over its stance on Bahrain, which hosts over 7,000 USA troops, mostly sailors attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity in Manama.

"He's a prominent human rights activist. we continue to have conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns about this", she said.

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