SHAFAQNA – After a court extended Bahrain Centre for Human Rights president Nabeel Rajab’s detention in connection with some tweets for another three weeks yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its condemnation of Bahrain’s constant obstruction of freedom of information and its repeated harassment of journalists and bloggers.
Arrested at his home on 13 June, Rajab was transferred to a military hospital with cardiac problems on 28 June after two weeks in solitary confinement. According to Bahraini human rights NGOs, he was examined by a doctor and was then returned to West Riffa police station for further custody.
He is facing up to 13 years in prison on charges of “spreading false rumours in time of war,” “insulting public authorities,” and “insulting a neighbouring country” in a series of tweets last year about Jaw prison in Yemen. At yesterday’s hearing, the first since his arrest, the court adjourned his trial until 2 August, extending his detention until then.
“It is outrageous that the Bahraini authorities are holding a human rights defender and are subjecting him to appalling prison conditions just because he used Twitter to provide information.” RSF said. “We call on them to free Nabeel Rajab and to withdraw all the charges against him.”
A major international campaign is under way for the Bahraini authorities to abandon the proceedings against Rajab. RSF joined 25 other international NGOs in signing an open letter calling for his release.
A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 7 July called for “the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders jailed on allegations relating to their rights to free expression, assembly, and association, and for all charges against them to be dropped.”
Meanwhile, journalist Mahmoud Jaziri’s trial on a charge of supporting terrorist activities was adjourned until 28 September when the first hearing was held on 28 June. Newly released blogger Ali Al Maaraj was arrested again, without a warrant, on 5 June. He is also accused of being part of a terrorist cell. Recently, journalist Nazeeha Saeed has been put under a travel ban, without any official reason.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.