Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab freed after jail time over tweet


Manama (AFP)

Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who played a key role in 2011 anti-government protests, was freed from jail Tuesday after serving time over tweets critical of the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

"Nabeel has been released and he is on his way home now," his lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi told AFP, adding that Rajab would serve the remaining three years of a five-year sentence in an "alternative" or non-custodial setting.

Rajab, a leading figure in the Shiite-led protests against the Gulf state's Sunni-minority monarchy, had been convicted of insulting the state, spreading false news, and "publicly offending a foreign country", a reference to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations had led calls for his release, calling his detention "arbitrary" and "discriminatory".

Rajab had spent four years in jail after earlier being convicted over media interviews deemed critical of the government.

"We are overjoyed at the news of Nabeel Rajab's release. Nabeel is a dedicated and passionate activist who has always advocated for human rights in Bahrain," Aya Majzoub, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

"He should have not have been imprisoned in the first place, but we are glad that he is finally reunited with his family."