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Bahrain arrests opposition leader freed less than month ago

July 12, 2015

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahraini authorities arrested a top opposition leader Sunday, less than a month after he was freed from prison following time served for his role in Arab Spring-inspired protests.

Ibrahim Sharif, the former secretary-general of the National Democratic Action Society, was being detained for comments in a speech Friday “that encouraged the overthrow of the government and incited hatred,” according to a police statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency.

The secular, leftist political group, which also goes by the Arabic name Waad, said the arrest took place about 2:30 a.m. at Sharif’s home and that authorities began preliminary investigations without his lawyer present.

Sharif was released last month after serving more than four years for his role in 2011 protests calling for reform in the kingdom, a Western ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

While dominated by the country’s majority Shiites, who seek greater political rights and long have accused the Sunni monarchy of discrimination, the protests also drew support from other segments of Bahraini society.

Sharif was one of several pro-democracy activists convicted by a military-led tribunal after a government crackdown on the protest movement. Other prominent opposition leaders and human rights activists remain behind bars.

Waad said Sharif is being detained for 48 hours pending further investigation. He rejects the allegations against him, the group said. It called for his immediate release.

“The arrest of Sharif is an attempt to silence his voice and confiscate his freedom of expression,” the group said.


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