Middle East, News

Bahraini lawyer detained for sympathising with Qatar online

Bahraini authorities have detained a citizen on charges of sympathising with Qatar on social media, state news agency BNA has reported.

This is the first time that the country has remanded someone for violating a ban on support for Qatar, that Bahrain first introduced after it joined Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt in severing ties with Doha.

BNA quoted the attorney general as saying that the interior ministry’s electronic crimes department had filed a complaint about a suspect it did not name, accusing him of social media postings deemed as violating the kingdom’s decisions. However, local media reports suggest that the suspect is Issa Faraj Arhama al-Burshaid, a Bahraini lawyer who has been arrested and detained after filing a case with the Supreme Administrative Court in Manama against the Cabinet. He challenged Manama’s sanctions against Qatar which include blocking its citizens from staying in the country along with other economic penalties.

Bahrain’s director-general of the Anti-Corruption and Financial and Electronic Security agency said Burshaid was detained for posting materials on social media that “damage the social fibre and national unity”.

Bahraini violators face up to five years in jail and an unspecified fine. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have imposed similar bans, but violations in these countries are punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams.

“The prosecution launched an investigation in this complaint, questioned the suspect and ordered him detained protectively pending questioning,” BNA said, quoting the prosecutor.

“The post, Advocate General and Head of the Terror Crimes Prosecution, Ahmed Al-Hammadi said, undermined the kingdom’s standing and respect. It also undermined the real reasons on which the stance of Bahrain regarding the policies of the State of Qatar was based.”

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