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Bahrain: Prominent activist to remain in jail despite release order

Nabeel Rajab has been repeatedly detained for organising protests and criticising the government

Nabeel Rajab will remain in jail until a court date postponed until 23 January (AFP)

A prominent Bahraini activist will remain in jail despite a court order for his release, as he is tried on separate charges.

A Bahraini court had on Wednesday ordered the release of prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab pending his trial on charges of spreading false information and posting insults online, a judicial source said.

However, prosecutors said later on the same day that he must remain in detention as he is tried over a separate charge.

The earlier decision to order his release followed repeated requests to release Rajab, 52, who suffers recurring health problems.

The court on Wednesday postponed his trial to 23 January, the source said, adding that Rajab attended the hearing.

The Shia human rights activist, who had been pardoned for health reasons last year, was re-arrested in June and is on trial on a list of charges, including insulting a state institution and Saudi Arabia in online postings.

He is also accused of "spreading false news and rumours and inciting propaganda during wartime which could undermine the war operations by the Bahraini armed forces and weaken the nation," reported state media.

Bahrain is part of a Saudi-led coalition battling Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Rajab has been repeatedly detained for organising protests and publishing tweets deemed insulting to Bahrain's Sunni authorities.

He previously served two years in jail on charges of taking part in unauthorised protests.

Home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shia-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.