RIYADH (Reuters) – A Bahraini court again denied bail to a leading Bahraini human rights activist on Tuesday and delayed his trial on charges of spreading false news, a pro-opposition rights group reported.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said Nabeel Rajab’s trial was postponed to June 12, extending his period of pre-trial detention – much of which was spent in solitary confinement – to roughly a year.
Authorities at Bahrain’s information affairs office could not immediately be reached for comment on the case.
Rajab, a leading figure in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising, was arrested last June after tweets from his account suggested that security forces had tortured detainees in a Bahraini prison and on a military campaign in Yemen.
He faces two other sets of charges related to an op-ed he published in the New York Times last year and tweets from his account that were critical of the Saudi-led Gulf Arab intervention in Yemen.
Bahrain has repeatedly denied systematic rights abuses and maintained that Rajab’s writing spread “false rumors” about Gulf Arab states.
Rajab criticized U.S. President Donald Trump in a second New York Times column this month for selling arms to his country and Saudi Arabia, citing their human rights records.
The column appeared ahead of Trump’s trip to Riyadh, where he sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and said there would no longer be “strain” in U.S.-Bahraini relations.
Trump’s White House has green-lighted the pursuit of a $5 billion military sale to Bahrain held up by the Obama administration last year over human rights concerns.
The Sunni-ruled kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, says it faces a pronounced security threat from neighboring Shi’ite theocracy Iran.
It accuses the Islamic Republic of radicalizing and arming some members of its majority Shi’ite population in an effort to bring about the downfall of the ruling Al Khalifa family.
Tehran denies any meddling in the island kingdom.
(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Alison Williams)