Bahrain rights activist to stay in jail for separate case
MANAMA - Hopes that Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab would be freed were dashed Wednesday after the prosecution said he will stay in custody pending another case, shortly after he was granted bail.
A court had earlier ordered that Rajab be freed pending trial on charges of spreading false information, and banned him from travelling abroad, with the case set to resume on January 23.
The decision followed repeated requests to release the 52-year-old who has suffered recurring health problems, and after mounting pressure from international rights groups.
But the prosecution swiftly said Rajab will remain behind bars for further questioning in a separate case, cutting short celebrations by his supporters and relatives on social media.
"He will remain in jail pending the case being handled by the public prosecution, until the investigation is concluded," prosecution chief Mohammed Salah said in a statement carried by the state news agency BNA.
Salah said Rajab was being questioned in another cybercrime case on a similar charge of "spreading false news about the situation in the kingdom".
The prosecution said Rajab was bailed in the case involving accusations of "spreading false news and rumours and inciting propaganda during wartime which could undermine the war operations by the Bahraini armed forces and weaken the nation".
Bahrain is part of a Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.
The Shiite human rights activist, who had been pardoned for health reasons last year, was rearrested in June and is on trial on a list of charges, including insulting a state institution and Saudi Arabia in online postings.
Rajab's son Adam lamented the decision to keep his father in custody.
"Sadly, my father will not be released," he wrote on Twitter. "Those oppressors already have another case ready for him. They don't want him out."
He said an earlier tweet in which he announced the "good news" of his father's release was "not valid any more".
Rajab was questioned recently in custody over letters critical of the authorities that were published in September in The New York Times and in December in French daily Le Monde.
Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have pressed Bahrain's authorities to release Rajab, a co-founder and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
Rajab has been repeatedly detained for organising protests and publishing tweets deemed insulting to the Gulf state's Sunni authorities.
He previously served two years in jail on charges of taking part in unauthorised protests in the Shiite-majority kingdom.
Sentenced to another six months in prison for his tweets, he was released in July 2015 after King Hamad issued him a royal pardon "for health reasons".
Home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.