BEIRUT

Middle East

Two Bahrainis jailed for 'defaming' king on Twitter

A riot policeman fires tear gas in Daih, Bahrain, on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, where Bahraini anti-government protesters tried to organize a march despite a ban on protests. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

DUBAI: A Bahraini criminal court on Monday sentenced to jail two Bahraini activists for posting on Twitter remarks deemed insulting to the king, their lawyers said.

The two defendants appeared in court and one was handed a one-month jail sentence while the other was given a four-month sentence for allegedly "defaming" King Hamad bin Isa Al-Thani, the lawyers said on condition of anonymity.

A third defendant facing the same charges was sentenced to sixth months in prison last Thursday, the lawyers added.

They were part of a group of four men arrested on October 17 on charges of "defaming" the king -- an accusation which they staunchly denied when the trial opened on October 22.

The verdict against the fourth member is expected later this month.

Regular demonstrations have shaken Bahrain since it crushed a Shiite-led uprising against the ruling Sunni regime in March last year.

The kingdom came under strong criticism from international rights groups over the deadly crackdown.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite Iran, has continued to see sporadic demonstrations, though mostly outside the capital Manama.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, a total of 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence began on February 14, 2011.

 

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