DUBAI // Bahrain has freed a Shiite opposition leader cleric after a day of questioning, charging him with incitement of hatred and banning him from travel, the prosecution said.
Ali Salman had been charged with “incitement to religious hatred and spreading false news likely to harm national security,” the attorney general, Abdulrahman Al Sayyed, was quoted as saying by the official BNA news agency on Saturday.
The prosecution had ordered the release of the head of the opposition Al Wefaq bloc after he had been summoned on Saturday, but “forbade him from any travel for the purposes of the investigation,” he added.
During his questioning, Mr Salman had been asked about the content of a speech he gave on Friday.
The attorney general said Mr Salman was charged with “inciting hatred against a religious community” in the Sunni Muslim-ruled country during the address.
He was also alleged to have “accused institutions of the state of engaging in illegal practices”.
The speech was followed by “disturbances, acts of violence and aggression against the security forces that caused injuries in their ranks,” the chief prosecutor added.
Six opposition groups including Al Wefaq have issued a statement denouncing Mr Salman’s detention as an “attack on freedom of expression in Bahrain”.
Al Wefaq, the most important opposition grouping in Shiite-majority Bahrain, wants a constitutional monarchy in the Gulf nation ruled by the Al Khalifa dynasty.
It repeatedly says it rejects violence but the authorities in turn blame its supporters for the trouble.
At least 89 people have been killed in Bahrain since the Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Demonstrators frequently clash with security forces in Shiite villages outside the capital.
Al Wefaq’s top figure Khalil Marzooq is facing a trial over charges of inciting terrorist acts.
* Agence France-Presse