Bahrain’s main opposition leader has been charged with attempting to overthrow the government of the western-backed Gulf state – a significant escalation in a crackdown on dissent.

Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the al-Wefaq movement, is to stand trial at the end of the month on charges of “promoting the overthrow and change of the political regime by force”, it was announced in Manama on Monday.

Salman, a Shia cleric, has been in custody since he was arrested at the end of last month. His detention has prompted protests in Shia villages across the Sunni-ruled island kingdom.

Bahrain, which was ruled by Britain until 1971, is home to the US Fifth fleet and the Royal Navy is building a permanent base there. Unusually, the US issued a warning that his arrest could “inflame tensions”.

In a separate case, Bahrain’s leading human rights activist, Nabil Rajab, is to be sentenced on charges of posting offensive messages on Twitter. He faces up to six years in prison. Twenty-one British MPs expressed their concern about his case in a letter sent to the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, on Monday.

Read the Full Article: Source – The Guardian

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