Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld human rights activist Nabeel Rajab’s five-year conviction for critical tweets made from his account condemning Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen and the use of torture at Bahrain’s notorious Jau Prison.
Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a 2012 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 given five years for the tweets in addition to a two-year conviction in June 2017 for “broadcasting fake news” relating to television interviews he gave in 2015, a conviction that remains upheld.
“Nabeel Rajab has suffered relentless harassment and intimidation for expressing opinions,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said. “Index reiterates: opinions are not crimes. Bahrain must immediately release Nabeel and we call on Bahrain’s allies — including the UK — to advocate for this in the strongest possible terms.”
Rajab, known for his peaceful involvement in the Bahrain uprising of 2011, had unsuccessfully appealed the tweet convictions on four previous occasions and this was his fifth and final appeal. He has been in prison on a continual basis since June 2016, during which time his health has deteriorated significantly.