Published: Mon, November 05, 2018

Qatar rejects accusations of meddling in Bahrain internal affairs

Qatar rejects accusations of meddling in Bahrain internal affairs

A Bahraini court has ordered life sentences for three senior opposition members, overturning a previous acquittal on charges of spying for Qatar in what an worldwide rights group called a "travesty of justice".

Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement, had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.

The defendants were found to have communicated with officials in the Qatari government in 2011 to prolong a period of unrest in the country, with led to the spread of crime, violence and vandalism.

The court also found that Qatari-owned Al Jazeera was used to escalate news of disturbances in the kingdom with the knowledge of the Qatari government.

Advocacy groups, including Amnesty, slammed Sunday's ruling against 53-year-old Salman and his aides, Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad as political reprisal. The cleric is now serving a four-year sentence in a separate case - "inciting hatred" in the kingdom.

On November 1, 2017, Sheikh Salman and his two assistants were charged with "spying on behalf of a foreign country. with the aim of carrying out subversive acts against Bahrain and harming its national interests".


Courts in Bahrain, where the USA navy's Fifth Fleet is based, a year ago dissolved Al Wefaq and the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), accusing them of helping to foster violence and terrorism.

The audio recording was released just two months after Bahrain, alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, cut off relations with Qatar over its ties with Shiite Iran and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, both of which the Gulf monarchies view as a threat.

Alistair Burt, the British Middle East minister, tweeted that he was "very concerned" to hear of further sentencing of Salman.

"The State of Qatar condemns that its name was mentioned in Bahrain's internal conflicts, " the ministry said in a statement. Members of dissolved opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq and the secular Al-Waad group, are banned from running.

Courts in Bahrain past year dissolved al-Wefaq and National Democratic Action Society (Waad), accusing them of helping to foster violence and terrorism.

The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini monarchy over its treatment of protesters.

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