Responding to the news that Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist in Bahrain, has had his appeal against his conviction for peacefully expressing his opinions online upheld, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:
“The Bahraini Court of Appeal has missed a vital opportunity to do the right thing and set Nabeel Rajab free.
“His ongoing detention is further proof of the Bahraini authorities’ relentless determination to squash the right to freedom of expression and silence any peaceful criticism.
“It is absolutely outrageous that he has to spend another single day behind bars solely for expressing his opinion online.
“The authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him.”
In February this year, Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence is related to posts and retweets shared on his Twitter account regarding alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw prison, and the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.
Nabeel Rajab is now expected to pursue a final appeal before Bahrain’s Court of Cassation.
Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been relentlessly harassed and intimidated for his peaceful human rights work and has been in and out of prison since 2012 on various charges related to his peaceful activism. He has been banned from leaving Bahrain since November 2014.
In the most recent round of prosecutions, Rajab has been detained since June 2016, and earlier this year was handed an additional two-year prison sentence for TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. The Court of Cassation in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, upheld his sentence on 15 January 2018, convicting him of “disseminating false news, statements and rumours about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status”.