Family, lawyer say prominent Bahraini activist arrested

AP News
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Posted: Apr 02, 2015 11:33 AM

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Prominent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab was taken again into police custody on Thursday and could face new charges as he appeals an earlier conviction, his lawyer and family members said.

Rajab is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and is one of the best-known activists in the tiny Gulf island nation.

The Western-allied country, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, has faced more than four years of unrest following widespread street protests led by the Shiite majority seeking greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy.

Defense lawyer Jalila al-Sayed confirmed Rajab's arrest but said she is not aware of what charges, if any, he will face.

The Ministry of Interior said on its official Twitter account that Rajab was arrested after publishing information that would harm the civil order and denigrated an official institution. It said legal proceedings were under way.

Rajab had been free on bail as he appeals a six-month jail sentence issue in January for insulting government ministries on Twitter. He is due in court for that case later this month.

The activist's wife, Sumaya Rajab, said police surrounded their home and ordered her husband to come out.

She said they refused to provide a copy of the summons but said the arrest was linked to comments Rajab made on Twitter about the treatment of inmates held at Jaw Prison, where unrest broke out last month.

Washington-based Human Rights First, which follows Bahrain closely, called the arrest an alarming setback.

"This is a brazen move to openly target a dissident leader," said Brian Dooley, director of the organization's human rights defenders program.