Bahrain must release activist charged with insulting security forces on Twitter

The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, Amnesty International said today after he was formally charged with publicly insulting official institutions on Twitter. 

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty has written to the King of Bahrain expressing the organization’s grave concern over the detention of Nabeel Rajab and the charges brought against him. 

He urged the Bahraini authorities to uphold the right to freedom of expression.

“The Bahraini authorities must stop locking up peaceful critics who express opinions they do not like,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“The charges levelled against Nabeel Rajab violate Bahrain’s international obligation to respect freedom of expression. He should be released immediately and the charges against him dropped.”

Nabeel Rajab posted tweets on 28 September commenting on members of Bahrain’s security forces who had joined the armed group calling itself the Islamic State. 

Two complaints were lodged against him over the tweets – one from Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior and the other from its Ministry of Defence. He was arrested on 1 October.

Nabeel Rajab remains in detention and a first hearing on the case has been set for 19 October at a lower criminal court in Manama. If convicted he would face up to three years in prison.

To read the full letter from Secretary General Salil Shetty to the King of Bahrain please see:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/037/2014/en

For further information or interview requests please contact: 

Sara Hashash MENA Press Officer, 44 (0) 20 7413 5511 email: [email protected]

or contact Amnesty International’s international press office on  +44 (0) 777 847 2126  email: [email protected]