DUBAI Oct 18 Bahraini authorities have detained
four men on charges of defaming the Gulf Arab country's king on
Twitter, according to the state news agency BNA.
The four men in their 20s were arrested on Wednesday morning
after security forces confiscated their computers and other
electronic equipment, Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain
Youth Society for Human Rights said.
Criticising King Hamad and other members of the Al Khalifa
ruling family is a red line in the Gulf island kingdom.
Bahrain's public prosecution office had questioned four
defendants and charged them with the "crime of insulting his
majesty the king on their personal accounts on Twitter,"
prosecutor Ahmed Bucheeri said on Wednesday, according to BNA.
The defendants, who have been detained for a week, will face
"an urgent trial before the criminal court", he said, but no
date has been given.
Bahrain, a U.S. ally which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth
Fleet, has been in political turmoil since pro-democracy
protests led by its Shi'ite majority erupted last year and were
put down by the Sunni rulers.
Last month, Zainab al-Khawaja, the daughter of an imprisoned
Bahraini activist was jailed for two months for damaging public
property in a police station, which included the picture of King
Hamad, the government's information authority said.
Khawaja's lawyer said her sentence was handed down for
tearing up a picture of the king.
In July, prominent protest leader Nabeel Rajab was sentenced
to three months in jail over a tweet against the prime minister,
a member of the ruling family, which the court said insulted
Bahrainis. He was later acquitted on appeal.
The ruling family used martial law and help from Gulf
neighbours to put down last year's uprising, but unrest has
Protesters and police clash almost daily and Washington has
called on its ally to talk to the opposition.
Bahraini authorities accuse regional Shi'ite power Iran of
encouraging the unrest and has vowed a tough response to violent
protests as talks with the opposition have stalled.