Prominent Bahraini human rights defender held over a tweet…again
Bahraini authorities re-arrested another leading human rights activist this week. One day after returning to Bahrain from an international speaking tour, Nabeel Rajab – President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights – received a summons from the country´s cybercrimes investigative unit regarding a tweet he published on September 28th.
The tweet read – quote – “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator”.
The comment came in reference to a video posted on YouTube in which a former Bahrain Interior Ministry official appears, calling on former colleagues to defect and join Islamist militants. Rajab faces charges for offending a national institution.
It´s not the first time Rajab has angered Bahraini authorities via social media. FSRN spoke with Rajab last month about restrictions on political expression in Bahrain, shortly after his colleague Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained.
“No journalists are allowed to get into Bahrain. No human rights group or human rights activists or civil society leader can get into Bahrain. Nobody could tweet or write on a Facebook something the government doesn’t like because he will be targeted. A lot of people are behind bars because of a tweet; I am one of them who was just released after spending two years in prison just for asking people to take part in a peaceful protest [from] my account.”
Rajab was released from jail in May, after serving two years for organizing pro-democracy protests. The new charges Rajab faces carry a penalty of up to three years in prison. Meanwhile, Maryam Al-Khawaja has been released and a travel ban that kept her from leaving Bahrain lifted.
Rajab and Al-Khawaja are among the most internationally-recognized Bahraini human rights defenders.