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Bahrain extends detention of activist Nabeel Rajab

[JURIST] Bahrain Public Prosecution on Sunday extended the period of detention of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab [personal Twitter account; JURIST news archive] by 15 days, citing a need for further investigation. According to Rajab's wife, the activist was arrested [BBC report] on April 2 for tweets he posted about torture practices in Jau prison. At the time of his arrest Rajab was released on bail for charges relating to a September tweet criticizing security institutions in Bahrain, suggesting that they acted as an "ideological incubator" for jihadists. This 15 day extension by the prosecution marks the second such extension [MEE report] this month, the first of which was made on April 11. A statement from the prosecution said that Rajab stands accused of "spreading tendentious rumors" and "attacking a state institution." The extension was criticized by directory of advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [official website] Sayed Alwadaei [personal Twitter account], who called on the EU and UK to speak out against Rajab's trial and in support of freedom of expression and accused Bahrain of targeting the activist for revealing torture practices rather than those who committed the torture. Both Britain and the United States have demanded that Rajab be released and the case against him be dropped.

Bahrain has faced international criticism for its crackdown against dissidents in recent years. Rajab was charged [JURIST report] in October with insulting the ministries of defense and interior over his tweets that alleged Bahrain's security institutions were the first incubators for extremist ideology. A judge rejected [JURIST report] a request for conditional early release for Rajab in December 2013. Rajab was initially sentenced to three years in prison, though his sentence was reduced to one year [JURIST report] after he had already served his sentence. In October 2012 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Bahrain's court of appeals to overturn the conviction of Rajab [JURIST report]. That same month the Bahrain Court of Cassation upheld jail sentences [JURIST report] for nine medics convicted for their involvement in Bahrain's pro-democracy uprising. According to Physicians for Human Rights [official website], at least 95 health workers were arrested in Bahrain only after some medics treated those hurt by security forces and spoke out against the crackdown against protesters, which included firing upon ambulances. Also in 2012 government officials pledged to fulfill [JURIST report] the 158 recommendations included in the UN Universal Periodic Review [materials] regarding human rights abuses against political opposition. HRW called on Bahrain to follow through with their promises, but raised doubts as to whether the government is fully committed to reform.

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