Congressional Letter Urges Release of Bahraini Leader
In a letter addressed to King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain, nineteen members of the U.S. Congress called for the release of human rights leader Nabeel Rajab as well as others imprisoned in the Gulf kingdom for freedom of expression related charges. The letter comes just days before Rajab’s appeals hearing on August 12th where he will contest his three month prison sentence resulting from a tweet he sent calling for the prime minister to resign. Rajab also faces charges of libel, illegal assembly, and inciting violence.
The congressional leaders, including Senators Patrick Leahy and Ron Wyden as well as Representatives Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, and Jared Polis, urged King Hamad to uphold the Bahraini government’s promises to halt prosecutions based on political speech, in accordance with the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
The family of Rajab also released a letter urging the international community, namely the governments of the U.S. and the U.K, to put pressure on the Bahraini government. Rajab’s wife Sumaya Rajab detailed her husband’s mistreatment and isolation in prison, as well as harassment by authorities of the whole family at work and at school.