WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it was disappointed by a prison sentence imposed on democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain and urged the government to drop the charges against him.
Rajab, one of the highest-profile democracy campaigners in the Arab world, was sentenced to six months in jail on Tuesday over remarks critical of the state.
“We’re disappointed by the sentence,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing.
“The United States does not agree with the prosecution of individuals for crimes of peaceful political expression ... we urge the government of Bahrain to drop the charges against him.”
Rajab, the founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, took a leading role in Shi‘ite-led demonstrations that demanded reforms in Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab kingdom where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based.
Bahrain quelled protests in 2011, which were inspired by other pro-democracy uprisings in the Arab world, but has since struggled to resolve political deadlock between the government and the opposition.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom, editing by G Crosse