Tweeting birds caged: six Bahraini sentenced to prison

Published May 16th, 2013 - 04:00 GMT
Hail to the King: Freedom of expression still has a long way to go in Bahrain.
Hail to the King: Freedom of expression still has a long way to go in Bahrain.

A Bahraini court on Wednesday sentenced six tweeters charged with insulting King Hamad to one year in prison, the public prosecutor's office announced.

The six were charged by the lower criminal court with "misusing the right of free expression," it said in a statement.

They were accused of writing remarks "undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain's society towards the king on Twitter," according to the statement.

Activists in Bahrain use Twitter as a platform to report what they describe as regime "violations" against them.

Prominent activist Nabil Rajab, who founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2002, has been in custody since June 6 on charges of "public insults against plaintiffs," the prosecution said in a statement at the time of his rearrest in June 2012.

The avid tweeter was also accused of insulting the security forces in postings that he admitted came from his account on the microblogging website.

This has given him the largest Twitter following in Bahrain, and the fourth largest in the Arab world.

He has attended trial on other charges including posting comments on Twitter deemed insulting to a government body and organizing peaceful protests.

At least 88 people have been killed since the uprising in Bahrain began in 2011, according to the BCHR.

Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home base to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is also a major offshore financial and services center for its Arab neighbors in the oil-rich Gulf.

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