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Bahrain Opposition Editors Plead Not Guilty to 'Fabricating News'

Mansour al-Jamri, former chief editor of the Bahraini opposition newspaper Al Wasat, arrives at the courthouse in Manama, Bahrain, May 18, 2011

The former editor-in-chief and two other former editors of an opposition newspaper in Bahrain pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of unethical coverage of the security forces' crackdown on anti-government protests.

Mansoor al-Jamri and two former editors of the Al Wasat newspaper are facing trial on charges of publishing "fabricated news" about Bahrain's protests.

They are also charged with disturbing the peace and harming state interests.

Jamri has rejected accusations that his newspaper knowingly published false information, calling the government's actions an attempt to silence independent media.

Human Rights Watch has said the charges show Bahraini authorities are "muzzling" the media. The group has urged Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against the editors.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain has arrested hundreds of mostly Shi'ite protesters and put dozens on trial in special courts since demonstrations in the small Gulf nation began earlier this year. The state also has imposed emergency law, which is due to be lifted on June 1.

Bahraini officials have said 24 people died in the unrest.

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