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Bahrain top activist loses final appeal against jail term

Bahrain’s supreme court, whose verdicts are final, Monday upheld a five-year jail term against prominent activist Nabeel Rajab for writing tweets deemed offensive to the state, a judicial source said.

Rajab, a high-profile rights activist who is already serving a two-year term in another case, was first handed the sentence in February by a lower court and an appeals court confirmed it in June.

The supreme court’s verdicts are final and can not be challenged.

Rajab, a leading figure in the 2011 protests against the Gulf state’s Sunni-led monarchy, was convicted of insulting the state by “deliberately disseminating”, false and malicious news on social media.

He was also convicted of criticising the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and publicly offending a foreign country, a reference to Saudi Arabia.

The court convicted him of endangering Bahrain’s military operations in Yemen. Manama is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels since March 2015.

He also tweeted criticism of the Bahraini government’s treatment of prisoners.

In January this year, the same court upheld a two-year imprisonment against Rajab after convicting him of press statements critical to the government.

Bahrain, with a large Shiite community, is located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran and has been ruled for more than two centuries by the Al-Khalifa dynasty.

Authorities have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since Shiite-led protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

They have stripped hundreds of those convicted of their citizenship, leaving many stateless.



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