English PEN joins PEN International in condemning the six-month prison sentence handed down today to prominent Bahraini activist and human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for insulting public institutions via Twitter as a gross violation of the right to freedom of expression
Today, 20 January, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison for a tweet. He now has to pay 200 BHD (£350) bail in order to remain out of prison until the appeal.
On 1 October 2014, Nabeel Rajab presented himself to Bahrain’s General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) upon receiving a summons for questioning, where he was arrested after hours of interrogation regarding one of his tweets. Rajab had just returned to Bahrain from an international advocacy tour, which included appearances at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Parliament in Brussels, as well as meetings with foreign ministries throughout Europe. Charged with insulting public institutions under article 216 of Bahrain’s penal code, Rajab was granted bail on 2 November 2014, but was banned from leaving the country.
Ahead of today’s verdict, English PEN joined forces with other regional and international human rights to urge the international community to pressure Bahrain to drop the charges against Nabeel Rajab. Rajab himself has previously condemned the silence of the international community and specifically the British government, which he describes as ‘weakening a movement that is calling for democracy and human rights rights and supporting a repressive regime that represses its own nation.’
PEN continues to call on the Government of Bahrain to drop all charges against him, and to immediately and unconditionally release all those currently detained in the Kingdom of Bahrain solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.