Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab receives five-year prison sentence over tweets

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab receives five year prison sentence over tweets

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been jailed several times before

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been handed a five-year prison sentence in Bahrain, after tweeting about alleged torture in Bahrain prisons and misconduct by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen conflict.

Rajab, one of the most high-profile voices against the Bahraini regime, is already serving a two-year prison sentence for criticising the country in broadcast interviews, despite the constitution in the country entitling people to free speech.

During his time in prison, which began in July, he has had to be taken to hospital several times for issues such as ulcers and heart problems, according to Daily News.

His Twitter account claimed he went to court today (February 21) with a "cheerful smile" and after he was sentenced he laughed and made a peace sign.

The man was previously handed a three year prison sentence in 2012 for allegedly instigating clashes beween police and protesters, whilst already serving a three-month sentence for tweets against the government. 

He was then released in 2014 before being imprisoned again due to Twitter comments. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa later pardoned the man in 2015 due to health issues, but in 2016 he was arrested again.

Today's case (February 21) has been criticised by activists across the world who don’t believe he should be punished.

Amnesty International said it shows "Bahraini authorities’ utter contempt for freedom of expression" and "demonstrates the authorities’ ruthless determination to crush all forms of dissent."

A senior advisor from Human Rights First called on the Trump administration to show "some spine in standing up to the dictatorship in Bahrain."

Brian Dooley also said the US Government needs to "take punitive action over this verdict" by sending "the American ambassador to visit Rajab in prison to tell him that the US is on his side and against this reckless repression."

The reason America has been slammed over its response is due to more than 7,000 troops working at a base in Bahrain's capital. It also sold the country 16 fighter jets with no human rights conditions attached. 

Yesterday Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the State Department, said officials were "disappointed" by Rajab's convictions and said the US is continuing "conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns."

Officials from Bahrain have not yet commented on the matter.