Bahrain’s High Criminal Court of Appeal has upheld a five-year conviction for human rights activist Nabeel Rajab for critical tweets made from his account condemning Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen and condemning the use of torture at Bahrain’s notorious Jau Prison.
Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner, has been sentenced in all to seven years in prison across two separate trials. In February 2018 he was sentenced to five years in prison for tweeting, which was added to a two-year conviction in June 2017 for “broadcasting fake news” relating to television interviews he gave in 2015.
Rajab has unsuccessfully appealed these convictions on four occasions and is expected to pursue a fifth and final appeal at Bahrain’s Court of Cassation.
Index on Censorship condemns the imprisonment of Rajab and the relentless harassment and intimidation the high-profile activist has seen since his involvement as a peaceful activist during the Bahrain uprising in 2011, during which time he has been in and out of prison on numerous occasions. He has been in prison on a continual basis since June 2016, during which time his health has deteriorated significantly.
“Nabeel Rajab is being persecuted by Bahrain for expressing his opinion,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said. “Opinions are not crimes. The authorities should release him, and Bahrain’s allies – including the UK – should be advocating at the highest levels for his release.”