06/10/2020, 10.15
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Manama, activist Nabeel Rajab is free after 4 years in prison

He was arrested in 2016 for criticizing the government and spreading fake news on social media. The judges had sentenced him to five years to prison. The release thanks to a recent rule that converts jail terms into alternative measures. He is the first opposition activist and leader to benefit.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Bahrain authorities have released 55-year-old human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, arrested in 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison for "criticizing the government" and "spreading false news" on social media.

In the past, human rights associations and dissidents have denounced the treatment suffered by the man while in prison and a United Nations commission has repeatedly called for his release, which took place yesterday after four years.

According to his lawyer, he will serve the remaining term in a non-custodial context. “Nabeel has been released - underlines Mohammed Al-Jishi - and is on the way back home. Finally, the judges granted him an alternative" to prison, in the context of a reform promoted in 2018 that converts prison to house arrest or solutions other than jail time.

Hundreds of prisoners and detainees behind bars for common crimes have regained freedom thanks to the law. However, Rajab (pictured, along with his daughter) is the first opposition leader and human rights activist to benefit.

Rajab, a Shiite, originally from the village of Bani Jamra, near the capital Manama, led many protests against the power of Al Khalifa, calling for greater democracy and civil liberties. Leader of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Bchr) group, on June 6, 2012 he was arrested for insulting the Sunni community on the web. Released, the activist was arrested a second time in 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison in 2018.

At the time, the top government official had defended the legitimacy of the process, speaking of an "independent and transparent" judicial process. The BCHR "welcomes the release" of Nabeel Rajab "after four years behind bars". "We are delighted," adds Aya Majzoub of Human Rights Watch (HRW), because "Nabeel is a dedicated and passionate activist who has always supported human rights" in the country.

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 – quashed thanks to Saudi military aid.


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