Bahrain to try Sheikh Salman on espionage charges: Report

Bahrain is set to try prominent Shia cleric and opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman this week on a charge of “spying” for Qatar, a media report says.

Salman, the secretary-general of the country’s now-dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, would be tried alongside two of his colleagues on November 27, Bahrain’s Lulu TV channel reported on Sunday.

The trio in early November was charged with “spying on behalf of a foreign country … with the aim of carrying out subversive acts against Bahrain and harming its national interests.”

The 52-year-old Shia clergyman was also charged with “revealing defense secrets to a foreign country and disseminating information that would harm Bahrain’s status and reputation.”

The opposition chief has been in jail on a nine-year prison sentence since late 2014 for what the Manama regime has called “insulting” government officials, “inciting” unrest through his speeches targeting the authorities during the 2011 uprising, attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers.

Sheikh Salman denies all the charges, saying he has merely been seeking reforms in the country through peaceful means.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have already censured his arrest and called for his release.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.

Amnesty recently denounced the recent prison sentence handed down to prominent human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab as “shameful and unfair.”