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Bahrain King orders release of political prisoners

The authorities in Bahrain released all 178 political prisoners on Sunday after they were pardoned by the King of Bahrain. Those released include two prominent Shi'a opposition activists, Hassan Meshaima'a, the leader of opposition organization al-Haq and Mohammad Moqdad, a religious leader. Both had been standing trial on charges that included incitement to the overthrow of the regime and membership of an illegal organization. An Amnesty International observer attended the first session of their trial in March. The arrests of the two men early this year sparked off large protests in many Shi'a villages. Some of those released had been in prison for more than 15 months and had been convicted on criminal charges.  Lawyers and human rights activists allege that they were forced to "confess" as a result of torture or other ill-treatment by Bahraini security officials.