Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, reinstated nationality to 551 convicted people stripped of their citizenship by courts in the Gulf Arab state, state news agency BNA reported on Sunday. A Bahraini court has issued verdicts in a mass trial, sentencing 69 people to life in prison and revoking the citizenship of 138 defendants on terrorism-related charges. The public prosecutor's office said on Tuesday that 70 others were sentenced to between 3 years and 10 years imprisonment. Close to 100 suspects were fined roughly $265,000 each.
The move comes after a series of mass trials conducted during the nation's years long crackdown on dissent that had banned opposition groups and eventually revoked citizenship from hundreds of nationals.
The BNA report did not say who were the 551 people that had their citizenship restored or what crimes they were allegedly involved in.
The defendants, of which 109 are in custody and 60 were tried in absentia, can appeal.
Charges against the group include forming a terrorist cell inside Bahrain with help from Iran and launching terrorist attacks.
A Bahraini court has issued verdicts in a mass trial, sentencing 69 people to life in prison and revoking the citizenship of 138 defendants on terrorism-related charges.
The public prosecutor's office said on Tuesday that 70 others were sentenced to between 3 years and 10 years imprisonment. Close to 100 suspects were fined roughly $265,000 each.
Bahrain, an island country in the Persian Gulf, has encountered widespread international criticism for the mass trials, which resulted in hundreds of people losing their citizenship. Last week, 138 people lost their citizenship in a mass trial.
The Britain-based activist group the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy called it "largest single incident since the use of this new tool of repression began in 2012 and takes the current number of citizenship revocations in Bahrain to 990, 180 of which occurred in 2019 alone."
According to the activist group, withdrawing nationality has become a growing tool of repression against critical voices in Bahrain, where the revocation of citizenship was officially formalized by the July 2014 Amendments to the 1963 Citizenship Law. The legislation allows the government to withdraw Bahraini citizenship from those who were charged on terrorist-related activities.
"Predominantly, this trend has affected political activists who have sought to speak out about human rights abuses in the country," the activist group said.
After the king's decisions, the state-run Bahrain News Agency said "The study and evaluation of the situation of convicts should be based on criteria pertaining to the seriousness, impact and consequences of the crimes, as well as on the danger the convict may pose on national security."
The country's Sunni monarchy crushed an Arab Spring uprising in 2011 that was supported by the nation's Shiite majority. But reports show most of the leading opposition figures and rights activists had either been imprisoned or fled to other countries.
Bahrain is also home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.