On Sunday, Bahraini authorities questioned Sheikh Ali Salman over “violations” posted on his Twitter account, despite the fact that he remains imprisoned and unable to tweet. Sheikh Salman, the secretary-general of Bahraini opposition bloc al-Wefaq, is already serving a four-year prison term for inciting hatred, disturbing public peace, and inciting civil disobedience. Following the interrogation, Bahrain’s prosecutor stated he would not press new charges against the political leader, but did call for an investigation into who was behind the tweets that allegedly incited civil disobedience of the law.
In November 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared al-Wefaq’s leader to be arbitrarily detained by the Bahraini government due to numerous due process violations and charges based on his free expression. Bahrain presently imprisons approximately 3,500 political prisoners, many of whom were sentenced for charges based on free speech and assembly. Bahraini activist, Nabeel Rajab, is currently under a travel ban following his release from prison for posting political opinions on Twitter. Other opposition leaders were summoned and charged on various free speech charges at the beginning of January 2016 for speeches commemorating a full year since Sheikh Ali Salman’s detention in December 2014. Bahrain continues to violate its international human rights obligations by prosecuting individuals for their peaceful dissent, in an attempt to restrict any sort of criticism by criminalizing free speech.