Bahrain detains citizen for sympathising with Qatar, agency reports

DUBAI, June 14 (Reuters) - Bahraini authorities detained a citizen for questioning on charges of sympathising with Qatar on social media, state news agency BNA reported on Wednesday.

It was the first time Bahrain had detained a citizen for violating a ban on support for Qatar that Bahrain imposed after it joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in severing ties with Doha. Violators face up to five years in jail and an unspecified fine.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have imposed similar bans. Abu Dhabi said violations are punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of at least 500,000 UAE dirham ($136,000), local media reported.

BNA quoted the attorney general as saying that the interior ministry’s electronic crimes department had filed a complaint about a suspect it did not name, accusing him of social media postings deemed as violating the kingdom’s decisions.

“The prosecution launched an investigation in this complaint, questioned the suspect and ordered him detained protectively pending questioning,” BNA said, quoted the prosecutor.

Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, survived a 2011 uprising led by majority Shi’ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger share in running the small Sunni-led kingdom.

The island state has recently stepped up a campaign against dissent, closing down two major political groupings, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shi’ite community and putting some rights activist on trial. ($1 = 3.6724 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Sami Aboudi, editing by Larry King)