Bahraini activist arrested over torture claims, says rights group

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Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Sayeh was reportedly arrested at her home by National Security Agency officers

Protesters hold a banner depicting victims of Bahrain's anti-government protests (AFP)
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Tuesday 4 July 2017 17:55 UTC
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A Bahraini activist was arrested at her home late on Monday by masked and armed state security officers, a rights group said on Tuesday.

The arrest of Ebtisam al-Sayeh comes a month after she complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted when she was summoned for questioning, according to the London-based Bahrain Centre for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Bahraini authorities to release the human rights activist, who it said was at "high risk of torture"..

"We fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody," the group said in a statement.

The rights group said Al-Saegh had been "beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency" during a previous arrest in May.

Officers believed to be from the National Security Agency (NSA) surrounded Sayegh’s home and arrested her, said BIRD in a statement.

It also warned that Sayegh was at risk of further abuse.

"The officers, all masked, had body and head cameras and were armed. They demanded her mobile phone and her CPR (national ID) card," BIRD said in a statement, citing family members.

"Two masked, civilian-clothed female officers cuffed and detained al-Sayegh," the statement added.

Bahraini officials did not respond to questions emailed by Reuters on the report.

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Bahrain opposition leader calls for UN probe into protest deaths

Last month, Amnesty International called on Bahrain to investigate claims by Sayegh that she was tortured and sexually assaulted when she was held for seven hours at an NSA building in Muharraq, north-west of the capital Manama.

Bahrain denies rights abuses and has installed cameras at interrogation centres as measures to guard against violations.

Sayegh told Amnesty that she was questioned about events in Diraz village on 23 May when security forces raided the home of a Shia spiritual leader and opened fire on demonstrators.

Bahrain has in recent months stepped up a crackdown on critics, shutting down two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of a Shia Muslim spiritual leader and jailing rights campaigners.

The kingdom has been a flashpoint since protests in 2011 during the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the region, were put down by the Sunni-led government with the help of neighbouring Gulf Arab states.

Last year authorities banned the main Shia Muslim opposition group, al-Wefaq, and on Wednesday a court ordered the dissolution of the main secular opposition group Waad.