Middle East

Bahrain: Rights activist Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha in first court hearing

Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha facing riot police in Manama, Bahrain (Dec 2012)
Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha could be jailed for two years

A leading Bahraini human rights activist has made his first court appearance since being detained three weeks ago.

Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha, vice-president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested at an illegal gathering in December.

His case has been adjourned until 17 January and he remains in custody.

Nabeel Rajab, the president of BCHR, is serving a two-year jail term for his role in demonstrations last year.

Mr Muhafdha has been charged with using the social media to disseminate false news. If convicted he faces up to two years in jail.

Mr Muhafdha had already been held for 12 days in November after being arrested while monitoring an anti-government protest but was released without charge.

International human rights organisation have expressed dismay at what they call an orchestrated campaign by the government to curb protests online and in the streets.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC the moves were "part of an attempt to harass, intimidate and ultimately silence voices of dissent in Bahrain."