DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain’s Public Prosecution on Thursday ordered prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab to be held and questioned for one week over remarks published on his Twitter account that were critical of state institutions, an associate of Rajab’s said.
Bahrain’s Public Prosecution confirmed it had charged a person with publicly insulting a government institution on social media and had detained him for questioning, although it did not name the individual.
Rajab, one of the most high-profile pro-democracy campaigners in the Arab world and founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was freed in May after two years in jail on charges of organising and participating in illegal protests.
He had taken a leading role in the 2011 mass Shi‘ite-led demonstrations asking for reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab kingdom that were inspired by other pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring.
Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, put down the protests but has struggled to resolve political deadlock between the government and the opposition.
The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday it had summoned Rajab “regarding Tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions”.
On Thursday, an associate running Rajab’s Twitter account in his absence, wrote: “The Public Prosecution has ordered the detention of Nabeel for 7 days on pending investigation.”
Also on its Twitter account, the public prosecution said the detained person had confessed to publishing the offending comments after a complaint from the interior ministry.
Talks between the government and opposition have failed to end Bahrain’s political standoff. Many Shi‘ites complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the authorities deny.
Rajab had recently returned to Bahrain from a trip abroad.
Speaking after his release in May, Rajab called for a “genuine dialogue” between the ruling authorities and the opposition to reach a solution in the U.S.-allied country.
Rajab was sentenced to three months in jail last year in a separate case over a Tweet criticising the prime minister, the king’s uncle. The ruling was overturned, but only after Rajab had already served his sentence.
Reporting by Farishta Saeed, Writing by William Maclean, Editing by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky