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Bahrain to Put Activist on Trial on Defamation Charge

  • Reuters

FILE - Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is seen talking on his mobile phone.

FILE - Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is seen talking on his mobile phone.

Pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, one of the highest profile activists in the Arab world, is to go on trial in Bahrain accused of insulting the Interior and Defense Ministries, his supporters said on Thursday.

While the Public Prosecution did not name Rajab on a statement carried on the official news agency announcing a trial on October 19, the Interior Ministry identified him when he was arrested on October 2.

Rajab took a leading role in the 2011 mass Shi'ite-led demonstrations demanding reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab kingdom that were inspired by other pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring.

If convicted, Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, could find himself back in prison just months after completing a two years sentence in May for organizing and participating in illegal protests.

Fellow activists who have maintained his official twitter account during past detentions confirmed the trial date.

In its statement, the Public Prosecution said the individual had “posted on his personal social media account insults against the two ministries in which he made defamatory allegations.”

Rajab was detained for questioning shortly after returning to Bahrain from a trip abroad.

Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based, put down the protests but has since struggled to resolve political deadlock between the government and the opposition.

Many Shi'ites complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the authorities deny.

Rajab was sentenced to three months in jail last year in a separate case over a tweet criticizing the prime minister, the king's uncle. The ruling was overturned, but only after Rajab had already served his sentence.