x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 November 2017

Bahrain dissident who 'spied' for Qatar to stand trial

Salman will be tried alongside two of his colleagues, Hassan Sultan and Ali Mehdi, from November 27 after they were charged earlier this month of espionage

The secretary general of the leading Islamic Shiite opposition grouping Al Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, addresses supporters in Duraz village, north of the Bahraini capital Manama. AP
The secretary general of the leading Islamic Shiite opposition grouping Al Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, addresses supporters in Duraz village, north of the Bahraini capital Manama. AP

Bahraini opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman will face trial later this month for "spying" for Qatar, the state prosecution said on Sunday.

Salman will be tried alongside two of his colleagues, Hassan Sultan and Ali Mehdi, from November 27 after they were charged earlier this month of espionage.

"The prosecution has referred the case in which Ali Salman, Hassan Sultan and Ali Mahdi are accused of spying for the state of Qatar to the High Criminal Court," the state prosecution said in a tweet.

Salman has been behind bars since 2014 serving a nine-year sentence for allegedly inciting hatred.

On November 1 the state prosecution charged him with "spying on behalf of a foreign country … with the aim of carrying out subversive acts against Bahrain and harming its national interests".

Salman was also charged with "revealing defence secrets to a foreign country and disseminating information that would harm Bahrain's status and reputation".

The investigation into purported links between Salman and Qatar was first launched in August, after a quartet of Arab countries — Bahrain included — accused their neighbour of supporting terrorism and close relations with Iran.

State-run Bahrain Television aired a report which claimed that neighbouring Qatar was behind anti-government protests that shook the kingdom during the Arab Spring six years ago.

The report said Qatar's former premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem contacted Salman — then head of Bahrain's largest opposition group, Al Wefaq — in 2011 and asked him to urge protesters to flood the streets and ramp up pressure on the state.