January 20, 2015 / 5:10 PM / 4 years ago

Bahrain sentences rights activist to six months in jail

Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, pauses during a conference at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain sentenced Nabeel Rajab, one of the highest-profile democracy campaigners in the Arab world, to six months in jail on Tuesday over remarks critical of the state, according to the Twitter accounts of his lawyer and the public prosecutor.

The founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Rajab took a leading role in Shi’ite-led demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011 that demanded reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab Kingdom, inspired by other pro-democracy uprisings in the Arab world.

Bahrain’s public prosecutor said on its Twitter account that a person had been sentenced to six months in jail for publicly insulting two government institutions. It did not name the individual.

Rajab’s lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi confirmed the sentence on Twitter, but said it would be suspended pending an appeal.

The court set a bail of 200 Bahraini dinars ($530) while the appeal was being processed. Rajab had also been on bail in the run-up to sentencing.

Rajab was previously handed three months in jail in 2013 in a separate case over a Twitter posting criticizing the prime minister, the king’s uncle. The ruling was overturned, but only after Rajab had already served his sentence.

Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, quelled the 2011 protests but has since struggled to resolve political deadlock between the government and the opposition.

Many Shi’ites complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the authorities deny.

Reporting by Farishta Saeed; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Alison Williams

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