Bahrain’s top court upholds sentence against activist Nabeel Rajab

Rajab was found guilty of criticising the Saudi air strikes in Yemen and writing tweets accusing Bahraini authorities of torture

Bahrain’s high court upheld a five-year jail sentence against activist Nabeel Rajab on Monday for criticising Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture, his lawyer said.

Bahrain has kept a lid on dissent since the Shi’ite opposition staged a failed uprising in 2011. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states sent in troops to help crush that unrest.

Rajab, a leading figure in the 2011 pro-democracy protests, was sentenced to five years in prison in February for criticising the Saudi air strikes and writing tweets accusing authorities of torture.

He was already serving a two-year term over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political prisoners.

“The Court of Cassation rejected the appeal and upheld the sentence of five years in prison against Nabeel Rajab for his tweets,” his lawyer, Mohamed Al Jishi, told Reuters by phone.

The convictions were for “spreading false news and rumours in time of war”, “insulting foreign countries” and “insulting publicly the interior ministry” in comments posted on Twitter, a court document see by Reuters showed.

Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has closed the main opposition groups, barred their members from running in elections and prosecuted scores of people in mass trials.