Washington has called upon the government of Bahrain to release the Shia opposition leader Ali Salman, who was arrested in 2014, Thenewkhalij.news reported on Friday. Although Salman was sentenced to four years in prison at the time, this was later increased to nine years.
The US call came hours after the Shia leader was acquitted by a Bahraini court on Thursday of “carrying out hostile acts inside the kingdom and receiving money from a foreign state in return for passing military secrets.” According to Shaikh Maytham Salman of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, “Shaikh Ali Salman was acquitted of the charges for which he had been detained since last November.”
Activists, added AFP, also reported the acquittal of Salman and two aides on the latest charges against them. They were accused of spying for Qatar in order to carry out hostile acts inside Bahrain and to harm its national, economic and political status. Salman’s detention led to widespread protests across the Kingdom, which has been criticised by rights groups and governments alike, including Washington, which is a close ally.
Bahrain has been witnessing protests by its Shia citizens since February 2011. They want a change to the system of governance, from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy.