Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab freed after jail time

MANAMA (AFP) – Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who played a key role in 2011 anti-government protests, was freed from jail on Tuesday after serving time over tweets critical of the military campaign in Yemen.

“Nabeel has been released and he is on his way home now,” his lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi told AFP, adding that Rajab would serve the remaining three years of a five-year sentence in an “alternative” or non-custodial setting.

Rajab had been convicted of insulting the state, spreading false news, and “publicly offending a foreign country”. The court convicted him of endangering Bahrain’s military operations in Yemen.

Rajab also tweeted criticism of the Bahraini government’s treatment of prisoners.

He had spent four years in jail after earlier being convicted over media interviews deemed critical of the government. The United Nations (UN) had led calls for his release, condemning his detention as “arbitrary” and “discriminatory”.

“Nabeel is a dedicated and passionate activist who has always advocated for human rights in

Bahrain,” Aya Majzoub, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

“He should have not have been imprisoned in the first place, but we are glad that he is finally reunited with his family.”

US Senator Chris Murphy, who visited Rajab’s family home when he travelled to Bahrain last year, welcomed the release. “Nabeel Rajab has been released from prison. Will serve out the rest of his sentence at home. This is good news and a sign of what can happen when the United States makes trouble over political prisoners,” he tweeted.