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UN watchdog calls on Bahrain to release activist’s family  

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on Bahrain to release the family members of prominent exiled activist, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an outspoken critic of the Bahraini government who now lives in Britain. 

A report released by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that the three relatives were being held because of their kinship to Alwadaei. Alwadaei’s brother in law, Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, his mother in law, Hajar Mansoor Hassan and a cousin, Mahmood Marzooq were convicted on charges of planting a fake bomb in October 2017 and were sentenced to three years in prison. 

The Working Group’s ruling says that they were arrested without legal basis and arbitrarily detained without the use of an arrest warrant or legal representation. The Group has also suggested evidence showed that the trio had been victims of torture and false confessions.

The Group added that Alwadaei’s relatives were “deprived of their liberty, interrogated and prosecuted for their family ties with Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei and that these were acts of reprisals”.

Alwadaei, the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, was given asylum in the UK in 2012 after he was sentenced to six months by the Bahrain government for protesting the royal family’s rule during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011. 

In reaction to the UN report, Alwadaei said, “it’s difficult for me to live freely when I know that others are imprisoned because of my actions”.

Bahrain has denied all allegations.

Last Friday, the UN also called on Bahrain to release another prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab. Rajab has been sentenced to five years in prison for criticising Saudi Arabia’s air attacks in Yemen and accusing Bahrain’s prison authorities of torture on Twitter. 

See more from Al Jazeera here and Guardian here.