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Amnesty condemns Bahraini intimidation of UK-based activist

False charges against activist's relatives are 'an attempt to force him to halt his peaceful activities and muzzle him from afar'
Sayee Alwadaei is handcuffed by police outside Downing Street last year (Reuters)

Bahraini authorities must immediately stop harassing a human rights activist now living in the UK, through the targeting his family back home, Amnesty said on Monday.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei is the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and fled to Britain after serving six months in prison for taking part in demonstrations against the government in 2011.

Alwadaei’s brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and cousin are all currently facing trial, accused of planting “fake bombs” near the capital Manama in January. Amnesty said the forced confessions were the result of “torture and other ill-treatment.”

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In a statement released today, the human rights group said that the false charges against Alwadaei’s relatives are “an attempt to force him to halt his peaceful activities and muzzle him from afar.”

“Amnesty International believes that these trials are part of the ongoing campaign waged by the Bahraini authorities to silence dissenting and critical voices, including those abroad,” it added.

When his mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, 48 years old, was brought in by the Criminal Investigation Directorate, she was interrogated without a lawyer present from 4.15pm until 2.30am, during which period she was made to remain standing.

This led to her collapsing, injuring her hand and shoulder in the process.

All three defendants were coerced into “confessing,” Amnesty says, and were questioned about Alwadaei’s activities in the UK.

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In 2016, Alwadaei took part in a protest in London against the visit of the King of Bahrain to the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

On the same day, his wife Duaa Alwadaei, 26, and their two year-old son, Youssef, were prevented from boarding their evening flight back to the UK after visiting family in Bahrain.

Duaa was then interrogated for seven hours, beaten and told by the authorities that they were “going after” her family, according to Amnesty.

Amnesty said it was “particularly concerned that the authorities have linked Duaa Alwadaei’s arrest at the airport to the King’s visit to the UK.”

On Monday, MEE revealed that British police are investigating an "allegation of a public order offence" in central London involving Bahraini royal family members against Bahraini activists.

Tuesday marks a year since prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been kept in prison for tweeting criticism of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen. Rajab is suffering from poor health, and the charges against him are a “clear violation of his right to free expression,” Human Rights Watch has said.

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