A Bahraini court has revoked the citizenship of an opposition leader over his comments deemed derogatory to Saudi Arabia’s monarch King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Bahrain’s high criminal court ruled on Wednesday that the defendant, identified as Ebrahim Karimi, be stripped of his citizenship, Bahrain Mirror reported.
It sentenced him to two years and a month in prison as well as a fine of 2,100 Bahraini dinars ($5,570) over allegedly insulting Salman and Saudi Arabia, inciting anti-regime hatred, and the possession of an electroshock weapon.
Bahraini regime forces had arrested Karimi earlier this year for running the Twitter account “FreejKarimi,” where he vehemently criticized Saudi Arabia and its monarch over the execution of Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Saudi Arabia announced on January 2 that it had executed Sheikh Nimr, an outspoken critic of the regime in Riyadh. The execution caused international outrage and sparked anti-Saudi demonstrations in many countries.
Meanwhile, Bahraini judicial officials are set to try 57-year-old Khalil Halwachi, a founder of the opposition Amal group.
Human Rights First has urged the US Embassy in Manama to send an observer to the trial of the prominent opposition figure, which is scheduled to be held on Thursday.
“Halwachi’s arrest and trial is just the latest in a series of attacks on peaceful opposition leaders. Bahrain will soon reach a point of no return, making its political crisis impossible to solve,” Human Rights First's Brian J. Dooley said.
The Bahraini regime, he said, “fears Halwachi because he’s educated, articulate, persuasive, and has strong international connections. Targeting him is a sign of the regime’s paranoia about a peaceful opposition.”
“If the US government is serious about urging its military ally Bahrain to develop inclusive politics, it should send an observer to the court hearing, and call for Halwachi’s immediate release if he is convicted. Nearly all of Bahrain’s opposition leaders are in prison,” Dooley pointed out.
Halwachi was arrested in May 2011 in the Al Khalifa regime’s wide crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the tiny Persian Gulf country. He spent several months in prison and was released in September that year.
He was arrested again in September 2014 and has been in Bahrain’s notorious Dry Dock prison ever since.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the crackdown.