Bahraini court ruled opposition party leader Sheikh Ali Salman was sentenced to life. Salman was found guilty of charges of spying on the Bahraini government for their neighboring Qatar.
This decision was handed down after several months before the Bahraini High Court declared Salman innocent on charges of colluding with the country's enemies. But the Bahraini government appealed and the court ruled Salman guilty. Salman was still able to appeal this decision.
"This ruling shows the efforts of the Bahraini Government that are relentless and unlawful to silence all forms of dissent," said Director of the Human Rights advocacy group Amnesty Middle East and North Africa Heba Morayef, as reported by the BBC on Sunday (4/11).
Bahrain has cut ties with Qatar in 2017. Amnesty described this decision as violating justice. According to them this decision also shows Bahrain continues to silence dissent.
"Sheikh Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience who has been detained solely because peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression," Morayef said.
Ali Salman is a leader of the banned movement in Bahrain named Al-Wefaq. Together with other opposition leaders Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad, Salman was accused of anti-government riots in 2011.
This accusation came after Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut their ties with Qatar in June 2017. Termination of relations was made after Qatar was accused of supporting terrorist groups and being too close to Iran. This accusation has been strongly denied by Qatar.
At that time al-Wefaq said the allegations were made so that the Bahraini government could continue to hold their leaders who have been detained since 2015.
Bahrain is one of the Gulf countries that was hit by the pro-democracy movement since "Arab Spring" in 2011. But they managed to prevent greater unrest because of Saudi Arabia's assistance.
Since 2011 various pro-democracy protests have taken place in Bahrain and there have been frequent clashes between demonstrators and security officers.
Salman, who was arrested in 2015 on charges of utter hate and harassment against the Bahraini Interior Ministry. At that time he was only sentenced to four years in prison.
Bahrain often accuses the country of being controlled by Shiite Muslims, Iran as the mastermind behind the riots that took place in their country. Bahrain as a close ally of Saudi Arabia, said Qatar had supported random protests and attacks on security forces.