Jailed Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been denied bail and his hearing has been adjourned until 29 November. The decision came on 19 October, the opening day of his trial. Rajab, a well-known activist who has played a prominent part in Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement, is facing charges of insulting government institutions through the following tweet:
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) September 28, 2014
According to his Twitter account, which has been run by an associate since Rajab’s arrest on 1 October, Sunday’s court session was “monitored” by representatives from “at least nine embassies“, including the US, UK and France. Family members were denied entry to the courtroom. Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), a 2012 Index Freedom of Expression Award winner, and director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), was released in May after two years in prison on charges including sending offensive tweets and taking part in illegal protests.
While in London in September, Rajab told Index about the human rights and free speech situation in Bahrain, saying that “at least 50,000 people” had been in and out of jail in the past three months alone, “just for practising their right to freedom of assembly, freedom of gathering, freedom of expression”.
Index has joined eight other organisations in asking the UK to speak out on the imprisonment of Rajab and other activists in Bahrain. The Norwegian government has called on Bahraini authorities to close the case against Rajab, while US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power has also called for his release.