11/02/2017, 10.13
BAHRAIN
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Bahrain, Shiite opposition leader accused of 'spying' for Qatar

Sheik Ali Salman, former Al-Wefaq leader, would promote "subversive activities against Bahrain, threatening its national interests." In 2011 Qatar's former prime minister would have contacted him asking him to put pressure on the Manama government. The activist is already in jail for a nine-year sentence.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Bahraini authorities have indicted Shia Shi'ite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, already in prison, charged with "spying" in favor of Qatar. State prosecutors yesterday announced the activist fomented protests in the country in response on the indications of the Doha government.

The investigation into the alleged ties between Salman and Qatar leaders began in August after four Arab nations - including Bahrain - accused the neighbouring nation of supporting terrorism and having ties with Shiite Iran. A diplomatic and commercial crisis that led to Doha’s isolation in the region.

Bahrain State TV ran a report with heavy accusations against Qatar, charged with having orchestrated anti-government protests that have rocked the kingdom in the last six years. In 2011, former Qatar captain Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani contacted Salman - Al-Wefaq's leader at the time - asking him to call for public protests and pressurize the Manama government.

Salman is in jail since 2014, with a nine-year sentence for hatred. He will also have to answer these latest charges: "Espionage in the pay roll of a foreign country [...] with the aim of promoting subversive activities against Bahrain and threatening its national interests."

The dissident will also go to the bar for "revealing defense secrets to a foreign nation and spreading information that could damage Bahrain's status and reputation."

The prosecutor's note does not clarify the expected date for the new trial.

Bahrain is a Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni dynasty in a country where the majority of the population (at least 60-70%) is Shia and want constitutional changes and social and economic rights. In 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, riots broke out that the king of Bahrain – a US ally supported by Riyadh – put down with Saudi military aid.

Last year, authorities arrested and sentenced Shia activists and religious leaders and suspended the activities of Al-Wefaq, the main Shia opposition group, on charges of terrorism, extremism and violence as well as ties to a foreign power (i.e. Iran).(DS)

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