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Hamad, drop charges against Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain: Drop Charges Against Rights Activists
15 May, 2012 – Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should drop politically motivated criminal charges against Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, and release him immediately. Rajab is scheduled to go on trial on May 16, 2012, for “offending an official institution” – namely, the Interior Ministry, which he criticized for allegedly ignoring attacks against boys and young protesters as well as Shia-owned businesses.

Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport on May 5, 2012, upon his arrival from Beirut. Mohamed al-Jishi, Rajab’s lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that the public prosecutor brought the “offending” charge against Rajab for four Twitter postings in recent months in which he criticized the Interior Ministry for, in al-Jishi’s words, “not prosecuting attacks by armed gangs who have attacked civilians.”

“The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government’s most prominent critics,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities should immediately drop these charges and release him.”

The Public Prosecution Office says it is also holding him pending investigation into charges that he “incited illegal gatherings.”

On May 11, following the Washington visit of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the US State Department announced that the Obama administration was resuming the provision of some military equipment and services for sale to Bahrain’s army, National Guard, and Coast Guard. …more

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