2016: Nabeel Rajab Rearrested, Faced New Charges over NYT and Le Monde Articles (Timeline)

2017-01-08 - 3:47 am

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Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Less than a year after a royal pardon was issued in favor of prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for "health reasons," the Bahraini authorities re-arrested him on June 13, 2016. After three weeks, the authorities said that his arrest was based on the grounds of a tweet criticizing the Saudi-led war on Yemen that Rajab posted back in 2015, i.e. before his detention and release by the royal pardon. The prosecution accused the top human rights activist of "spreading false news that would diminish the state's prestige." His trial is still ongoing to date.

The sudden and unjustified arrest of Nabeel Rajab prompted widespread international reactions. The International Center for Supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) condemned Rajab's arrest and many more statements were consequently issued by a number of international human rights organizations that called for the immediate release of Rajab. For its part, the United States Department of State expressed concern over his arrest. Also commenting on this action, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated "the right of people to the peaceful exercise of their freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Bahrain and everywhere." France as well voiced its concern over the arrest of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights president, and urged respecting the freedoms of opinion and expression all over the world.
Retaliating against him due to his human rights activism, the Bahraini authorities held Rajab in solitary confinement at the East Riffa detention center in poor conditions. He was isolated from the rest of the detainees and completely deprived of any outdoor time, which led to the deterioration of his health and psychological state. He was later rushed to the military hospital.

On June 30, 2016, Sumaya Rajab, Nabeel Rajab's wife, called on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to interfere and save Rajab, holding the Bahraini government accountable for Rajab's health deterioration. She said that her detained husband is still being subjected to psychosocial pressure by isolating him from the outside world, stressing that his health has been continuously deteriorating. "Rajab's weight is rapidly decreasing, he has lost 8 Kgs in 2 weeks only," noted Sumaya in a series of tweets on her personal Twitter account, adding that after six months of his arrest, he is still being held in solitary confinement.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) reported, according to Rajab's wife, that "On August 5, the Bahraini authorities postponed Rajab's urgent appointments with hospitals until the beginning of September," adding that Rajab "was supposed to meet with consultants from the Bahrain [Military] Defense Force Hospital, to discuss an operation to remove a gallstone, and another one to treat an ulcer in his back." On August 25th, Adam Rajab, son of the BCHR founder, said that his father called from prison and informed them that he will be transferred to the hospital due to pain in his chest.

However, on August 29th, the Bahraini Public Prosecution claimed that Rajab's health condition was stable, also alleging that there was no risk to his health where he was being held in prison at the time.
On September 4th 2016, the New York Times published a letter written by Nabeel Rajab from prison, entitled "Letter from a Bahraini Jail," in which the human rights campaigner said that "despite the pardon, the 2015 charges and a travel ban remained in place, and I was threatened with further action," adding that the "head of the cybercrimes unit at the Criminal Investigation Directorate in Bahrain summoned me and my family to a meeting, where - in front of my children - he warned me that if I didn't stop my advocacy work, I would face up to 15 years in prison."

During his trial hearing on September 5th, Rajab told the judge that his arrest is because of his meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Bahrain in April, since he was summoned for questioning afterwards, adding that the case raised against him is based on malicious grounds. "I was arrested after I refused to disavow my name from a letter written by Gulf activists to Obama during his visit to Saudi Arabia," he further stated.

The Public Prosecution opened a new case against Rajab over a New York Times article, announcing that it interrogated Rajab about "an article in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately disseminated false news and information and tendentious rumors that undermine the kingdom's prestige and stature."

Rajab's family said they received a call from him informing them that he is being held in solitary confinement, insulted, and yelled at by one of the officers at the East Riffa detention center. They further stated that the clothes and napkins they brought for Rajab were befouled with water and dirt before he received them.

On October 3rd, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights president underwent a surgery after his health deteriorated due to being held in poor conditions in prison.

He was transferred to the hospital later on November 22 due to heart problems, after spending 3 months in solitary confinement in prison. On Twitter, his son Adam said that Rajab was transferred to the hospital after suffering from chest pain, and that (ICG) test showed irregular heartbeats.

In his recent trial hearings, the court adjourned his case until December 28, 2016 while he remains in custody. The court decided to postpone the case to listen to the prosecution witnesses (attesting witnesses) and to the technical expert assigned to investigate Nabeel Rajab's Twitter account and who manages it.

Bahraini authorities also interrogated detained opposition leader Nabeel Rajab over an article published in French daily Le Monde, which was attributed to him. The Public Prosecution claimed that the piece included "false information and rumors," stressing that his comments "harm the interests" of Bahrain and other Gulf countries.

In his latest hearing in the end of 2016, the court ordered Rajab's release on Wednesday (December 28, 2016) with the guarantee of his place of residence. The Public Prosecution; however, refrained from executing the court's decision. The prosecution said that Rajab faces continued detention over another case and will be detained for a week pending investigation, after raising against him charges of "disseminating false news and rumors in times of war that could harm Bahrain's internal situations."

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