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April 13, 2015

Nabeel Rajab’s Detention Extended

Bahrain human rights defender Nabeel Rajab’s detention was extended another 15 days on Saturday April 11. He was arrested on April 2 after tweeting information about reports of torture in the country’s main prison, and about the military attacks in Yemen.

The U.S. government has called for the charges against him to be dropped and for his release. On April 10 Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog featured an open letter to President Obama written by Rajab in jail.

Rajab has an appeal verdict due to be announced on May 4 on another twitter case (in which the U.S. government has also called for the charges to be dropped) where he was sentenced to six months in prison. As the Formula One heads to Bahrain this coming weekend, a roundup of leading dissidents is expected. However, Rajab’s case seems more ominous than merely keeping him out of the way for a couple of weeks while foreign journalists are in the country to cover the race – it’s possible he will be charged for his tweets with crimes that carry up to ten years in jail.

Targeting Rajab and other leading activists damages Bahrain’s credibility more than his tweets could ever do, but the regime seems addicted to attacking its civil society leaders nonetheless.