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IFEX calls on Bahrain to release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab

The IFEX network is calling on Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release renowned human rights defender and IFEX member Nabeel Rajab.

Last week, a Bahraini court upheld a five-year prison sentence against Rajab for tweeting concerns about human rights violations in the war in Yemen and for documenting allegations of torture in Bahrain's prisons. Rajab was also sentenced separately to two years imprisonment for conducting media interviews, and faces a further 14 charges relating to his use of social media.

Today marks the second anniversary of Rajab's arrest, and the IFEX network of 119 organisations says that there is no justification for his initial arrest or his continued detention. Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network.

Rajab's continued imprisonment has sparked growing international attention and criticism. Last week, the Council of Paris unanimously granted Nabeel Rajab honorary citizenship and demanded his release. Those calling for Rajab's release include the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the US State Department, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, and dozens of members of the European Parliament.

Rajab's case is part of a much broader trend. Since 2012, Bahrain's courts have sentenced at least 40 Internet users to more than 842 months in prison for online expression. The country's Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa recently announced a further crackdown on citizens who criticise the government on social media.

“The entire IFEX network stands united in calling for the release of our colleague Nabeel Rajab,” said IFEX Executive Director Annie Game. “Nobody should be imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression. The recent decision to keep Nabeel in prison for a further five years is not only unjust, it is cruel. It illustrates the real cost of speaking out in Bahrain. We will continue to focus our efforts on Nabeel's health, safety, and ultimate release.”

For more information on Nabeel Rajab's case visit: https://www.ifex.org/bahrain/2016/08/26/nabeel_rajab_profile/

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