A Bahrain appeals court yesterday upheld a five-year prison sentence for human rights activist Nabeel Rajab amid the island kingdom's clampdown on all dissent, a verdict that has been widely criticized internationally.
Rajab did not attend the hearing before the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal over his case involving tweets that criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen and alleged abuses in Bahraini prisons. He is already serving a two-year prison sentence for television interviews he gave that included criticism of Bahrain
Bahrain's constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of speech. However, Rajab was prosecuted under laws making it illegal to offend a foreign country, spread rumors at wartime or "insult" a government agency. Bahrain described his February sentencing by saying Rajab was "found guilty of undermining that security." Rajab can still appeal to Bahrain's Court of Cassation, its highest judicial body, or possibly be pardoned by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which happened in a previous case in 2015 when the activist faced health problems.
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