Bahrain activist says charge over tweets 'vindictive'
DUBAI - Agence France-Presse
Bahraini Shiite Muslim women hold portraits of opposition prisoner, Nabeel Rajab during a demonstration in the village of Karzakan, South of the capital Manama, on May 11, 2012 to demand release of jailed opposition activists. AFP photoProminent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab told a court on Wednesday that a charge that he tweeted insults against the government were "vindictive," as dozens of lawyers turned up to defend him.
"The charge against me is vindictive and is due to my rights activism," Rajab told a judge at Manama's Minor Criminal Court, insisting the decision to arrest and try him was political, according to witnesses.
"I only practiced my right to free expression. I did not commit a crime. The decision to arrest me and put me on trial was a political decision," he said.
More than 50 lawyers, both men and women, gathered at the court to defend Rajab, who has been leading protests following a brutal crackdown on Shiite-led demonstrations against the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty in March 2011.
The judge adjourned the trial to Sunday, and ordered Rajab to stay behind bars.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was detained on May 5 for "insulting a statutory body via Twitter". He also faces a trial for taking part in a Manama demonstration three months ago.
The activist has insisted on demonstrating inside Manama, unlike the main Shiite opposition which now stages its protests in Shiite villages, after last year's clampdown on protesters who occupied the capital's Pearl Square for a month.