Top human rights activist rearrested in Bahrain: Family

Bahraini human rights activist Nabil Rajab at his home in the village of Bani Jamrah, on July 14, 2015, after his release from prision.
Bahraini human rights activist Nabil Rajab at his home in the village of Bani Jamrah, on July 14, 2015, after his release from prision. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (AFP) - Leading Bahraini human rights activist Nabil Rajab was rearrested on Monday (June 13) by security forces in the Gulf island state, his family said on Twitter.

Mr Rajab, who was detained in 2014 for tweets deemed insulting to the authorities before his release on health grounds, was apprehended in a dawn raid on his home in the mainly Shi'ite village of Bani Jamra near Manama, according to his family.

"Rajab was arrested from his house and his house was searched," his wife Sumaya Rajab posted on Twitter. The activist, who has led anti-government marches and heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, had previously served two years' jail for taking part in unauthorised protests.

He was sentenced to six months' jail for his tweets but pardoned in July 2015 after King Hamad issued a royal pardon "for health reasons".

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

Washington had previously called for Mr Rajab's release, while international rights groups have condemned trials against opponents of the Sunni regime.

His arrest comes a week after another leading opposition activist Zeinab al-Khawaja fled Bahrain following her release from jail on "humanitarian grounds".

"It pains me to leave, but I leave carrying our cause on my back, and my love for my country in my chest," Ms Khawaja, who left for Denmark where she also holds nationality, said on Twitter.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights has said Ms Khawaja was jailed for three years and one month on charges including tearing up the monarch's picture and insulting a police officer.

Rights groups say Bahrain has detained scores of opponents of the island's Sunni rulers, often sentencing them to long jail terms.

A court in May more than doubled the jail sentence against opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, who is now set to serve nine years in prison for charges of inciting violence.