Bahrain top activist loses final appeal against jail term

In this file photo taken on November 2, 2014 top Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab sits at his home in the village of Bani Jamrah, west of Manama (AFP pic)

DUBAI: Bahrain’s supreme court, whose verdicts are final, Monday upheld a five-year jail term against prominent activist Nabeel Rajab for writing tweets deemed offensive to the state, a judicial source said.

Rajab, a high-profile rights activist who is already serving a two-year term in another case, was first handed the sentence in February by a lower court and an appeals court confirmed it in June.

The supreme court’s verdicts are final and can not be challenged.

Rajab, a leading figure in the 2011 protests against the Gulf state’s Sunni-led monarchy, was convicted of insulting the state by “deliberately disseminating”, false and malicious news on social media.

He was also convicted of criticising the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and publicly offending a foreign country, a reference to Saudi Arabia.

The court convicted him of endangering Bahrain’s military operations in Yemen. Manama is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels since March 2015.

He also tweeted criticism of the Bahraini government’s treatment of prisoners.

In January this year, the same court upheld a two-year imprisonment against Rajab after convicting him of press statements critical to the government.

Bahrain, with a large Shiite community, is located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran and has been ruled for more than two centuries by the Al-Khalifa dynasty.

Authorities have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since Shiite-led protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

They have stripped hundreds of those convicted of their citizenship, leaving many stateless.