The sentencing of Nabeel Rajab, an Index Freedom of Expression Award winner for his work defending human rights in Bahrain, underscores the decline of freedom of expression in the Gulf country.
Rajab was sentenced on Monday 10 July to two years in prison for speaking to journalists.
“The decision to sentence Nabeel to two years in prison reiterates the draconian approach Bahrain’s government takes toward non-violent dissent. This is a true miscarriage of justice that strips bare even the veneer of legality that Bahraini authorities like to show the rest of the world. Nabeel expressed opinions about the state of his own country and should not be penalised for free speech,” Melody Patry, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, said.
Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was sentenced in absentia. He has been hospitalised since April.
Arrested on 13 June 2016, Rajab has spent the last year in pre-trial detention, largely in solitary confinement and deplorable conditions.
Rajab also faces trial on 7 August in a separate case related to his tweeting against the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen, which Bahrain is part of, as well as speaking out against torture in Bahraini prisons. He faces up to 15 years in prison on other charges, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.