Bahraini authorities should immediately release the human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, Human Rights Watch said today. Rajab’s trial is scheduled to resume on December 15, 2016, on charges that inherently violate the right to free expression. Among Bahrain’s allies only the United States has publicly called for his release.

Rajab was arrested on June 13 for comments on his Twitter account that criticized Bahrain’s participation in Saudi Arabia-led military operations in Yemen. At the last hearing on October 31, the court ordered an Interior Ministry technical expert to determine whether Rajab had posted the comments. Because the court has repeatedly rejected Rajab’s request to be released on bail, he will have spent more than six months in pre-trial detention by the time the court is expected to deliver its verdict, which could result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

“Rajab shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place and countries like the UK, France, and Germany should be loudly calling for his immediate release,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Keeping him in detention for all these months while the government seeks an expert opinion only compounds the injustice.”


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