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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Bahrain reveals new evidence in Qatar spy case

The verdict in the case of the three Bahraini men — Ali Salman Ali Ahmed, Hassan Ali Jumaa Sultan and Ali Mehdi Ali Al Aswad — will be announced on June 21

A supporter holds a portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest,  in the village of Zinj on the outskirts of the capital Manama in 2016. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP
A supporter holds a portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest, in the village of Zinj on the outskirts of the capital Manama in 2016. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP

Bahrain’s public prosecution has presented new evidence against three suspects accused of treason and of spying for Qatar.

The verdict in the case of the Bahraini men — Ali Salman Ali Ahmed, Hassan Ali Jumaa Sultan and Ali Mehdi Ali Al Aswad — will be announced on June 21, reported Bahrain's state news agency, BNA.

They have been accused of collaborating with Qatar and of committing “hostile acts against Bahrain with the intention to overthrow the political system”, said Bahraini public prosecutor Osama Al Oufi.

Ali Salman, the head of Bahrain’s largest opposition group, Al Wefaq, was contacted by former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim during the 2011 protests in Manama.

Sheikh Hamad urged Salman to flood the streets and increase pressure on the government, according to a telephone recording obtained by Bahrain’s state television last year.

“We don’t want anything to happen by force, and that is our main aim,” the former prime minister purportedly told Salman. "Please trust us. You know that we are always honest with you.”

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The 2011 anti-government protests in Manama, led by the country’s Shiite majority, were suppressed a month after they began by Saudi and Emirati authorities.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of interfering in other country’s affairs by looking to fund the opposition in a bid to destabilise the region.

A court order, carried by the BNA, said attorney general Ali Al Bouainen had launched an investigation into a series of phone calls.

Salman’s Al Wefaq group was subject to a Bahraini government crackdown in 2017 for "harbouring terrorism". Salman has been in prison since 2014.

The session on Tuesday was attended by Salman and his legal representation. The other two accused were not in attendance and their whereabouts was still unclear.

The four Arab countries stand firm by their decision to boycott Qatar, saying they are willing to re-establish communications with Doha only if it adheres to regional and international agreements and the demands and principles they have issued.

Doha has so far refused to meet the quartet’s 13 demands — including the closure of Qatar-owned Al Jazeera news channel, which the quartet says provides a platform for extremists and dissidents.