NEWS BRIEF The U.S. State Department has called on Bahrain to release the human rights-activist Nabeel Rajab, who is currently facing 15 years in prison for posting statements on Twitter that Bahraini officials say are critical of government. Authorities reportedly handed down more charges Monday after Rajab published a letter in The New York Times criticizing the country.
“We’re very concerned—both about his ongoing detention and about the new charges filed against him,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday. “We call on the government of Bahrain to release him immediately.”
Rajab was arrested in June 2015 for tweeting criticism of both the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen, of which Bahrain is an active member, and the condition of detainees in Bahraini prisons. The Gulf monarchy accused Rajab of deliberately spreading “false or malicious news, statements, and rumors,” a crime which carries up to 10 years in prison. He also faced charges of “offending a foreign country,” which carries a possible two-year sentence, and “offending national institutions,” which carries up to three years in prison. Rajab faces 15 years in prison. It’s unclear how more charges will affect the potential penalty.