The United States has urged that a Bahrain court's decision to sentence a prominent human rights activist to three years in prison for taking part in an anti-government protest be reconsidered.
In a statement issued on Friday, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said "the Government of Bahrain has committed to respect freedom of expression and assembly and we look to it to fulfill these commitments."
Washington expressed deep concern over the Bahraini court's sentence against Nabeel Rajab. "We expect that the verdict and sentence will be reconsidered in the appeals process without delay, the statement added. The United States also urged the government of Bahrain to consider all available options to resolve this case.
"We believe that all people have a fundamental right to participate in peaceful acts of protest. We have repeatedly urged the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society, and to begin a meaningful dialogue with the political opposition and civil society. Excessive punishment for peaceful expression - in this case and others - will not contribute to those efforts and only serves to divide Bahraini society further," Nuland said.
Amnesty International said it is a "dark day for justice" in the country.
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was found guilty of taking part in an "illegal gathering" among other charges in relation to a protest in the capital Manama on February 6.
Rajab, his family and one police guard were the only ones present at the Third Lower Criminal Court in Manama on Thursday when the judge read out the verdict.
Rajab is already serving a three-month sentence for libel in relation to a post he made on Twitter.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org