Published Monday, May 7, 2012
Human rights leader Nabeel Rajab is being held in a Bahraini jail because of comments he made on Twitter, his daughter said on Monday.
Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center of Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested on Saturday evening after flying into the country, and was charged with a string of offenses on Sunday afternoon.
Maryam al-Khawaja, who has taken over as acting head of the BCHR while Rajab remains incarcerated, said the charges against him were based on comments he had made on the social networking site.
“He is going to have several charges against him, mostly about what he writes on Twitter. They said he offended an official in the government and because of his Twitter there were violent attacks on police and calling for illegal protests,” she told Al-Akhbar.
“We knew they had been building up a case against him using Twitter because the last two times he has been arrested what they would do is bring out a file of hundreds of pages of copies of his tweets. That’s their evidence,” she added.
Maryam said that Rajab had refused to respond to any of the charges put against him as he did not recognize the legitimacy of the court.
A statement from the Interior Ministry confirmed that the evidence against Rajab was predominantly from publicly available social networks, but did not specifically mention Twitter.
“The Public Prosecution filed a case against the defendant after compiling compelling evidence of his involvement in inciting illegal rallies and marches online on social networking websites,” it said.
Following an interview with the BBC’s Hard Talk show two weeks ago, Rajab was threatened on Twitter by Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid Al-Khalifa, saying “you are not going to get away with this every time.”
Maryam also said her sister, prominent rights campaigner Zainab famous for her Twitter handle @angryarabiya, was being unfairly treated in jail.
Zainab has been detained for three weeks and is due to face a number of charges on Wednesday, including insulting a police officer.
“They have been harassing her inside prison,” Maryam said. “One of the things she has been doing is making paper toys for her two-year-old daughter. They came in and took away the toys.”
Their father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and co-founder of the BCHR, has been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest his detention.
Abdulhadi, along with a number of key activists, remain imprisoned for leading pro-democracy rallies last year, despite a government-backed commission in November calling on all political prisoners to be released.
Bahrain was the scene of a number of large Arab Spring inspired protests last February, following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Bahraini and Saudi troops violently suppressed the protests in March, but demonstrations have continued.
- The Agony of Nabeel Rajab (theatlantic.com)
- Bahrain arrests main human rights activist Nabeel Rajab (rt.com)
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