Bahrain activist detained for seven days: lawyer

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 10:00 AM

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini authorities have ordered pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja to be detained for questioning for seven days after a judge accused her of insulting King Hamad by tearing up his picture, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

Zainab, daughter of jailed activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who is on hunger strike, fell foul of the judge on Tuesday during an appeal hearing into two cases involving her that date back to 2012, her lawyer Mohammed al-Wasti said.

"The judge yesterday accused Zainab of insulting the king by tearing up his picture during the trial," Wasti told Reuters.

Zainab, who is pregnant and lives in Bahrain, was an activist during 2011 pro-democracy protests, where she became known for publishing news of the uprising on social media.

Bahraini officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

Earlier this year, the king approved a law imposing a jail sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars ($26,500) for anyone who publicly insulted him.

Zainab's younger sister, Maryam, who is acting head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was briefly detained last month upon returning from Europe. She has been freed on bail pending trial on charges of entering the country illegally, assaulting a policewoman at the airport and insulting King Hamad.

Bahrain, a base for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since the 2011 Arab uprisings, when mass protests led by Shi'ite Muslims erupted in Manama.

Shi'ites complain of political and economic marginalisation, a charge the government denies. Talks between the government and opposition have failed to defuse tensions.

(Reporting by Farishta Saeed; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Crispian Balmer)