Bahrain on Friday rejected a UN call to release prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, saying he is serving a five-year sentence for “false” tweets “which do not fall within freedom of expression”.
The remarks by the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Crimes came a week after the UN human rights office called on Bahrain to “immediately and unconditionally release” Nabeel Rajab.
Rajab, who played a key role in Shiite-led anti-government protests in 2011, lost his final appeal on December 31 against a five-year jail term for writing tweets deemed offensive to the state.
Bahrain’s supreme court, whose verdicts are final, upheld the jail term against him.
“Nabeel Rajab posted false and malicious tweets which do not fall within the freedom of expression,” Bahrain’s anti-corruption unit said in Friday’s statement.
It said Rajab “posted false and malicious tweets harming the civil peace and social harmony”.
“They amount to legal violations which do not fall within the protections for freedom of expression that are guaranteed by Bahrain’s constitution.”
It accused Rajab of several false tweets and re-tweets including of claims “that hundreds of inmates in the Jaw prison had suffered fractures and hundreds were bleeding from their heads because of physical attacks and torture”.
The statement came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to visit Bahrain on Friday on the latest leg of a whistlestop Middle East tour.
It was not immediately known if Pompeo would raise human rights issues in Bahrain — a key US ally that hosts the home base of the Fifth Fleet.