MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has been detained and referred to prosecutors over tweets that offended the country's Interior Ministry, his lawyer said Thursday.
Nabeel Rajab was detained Wednesday for questioning, lawyer Jalila al-Sayed said, in part due to one tweet in which he said many Bahraini men who joined terrorist groups like the Islamic State group came from the country's own security institutions.
Rajab previously served two years in prison for leading anti-government Shiite protests. He was released in May.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Rajab was summoned because of tweets that had "denigrated government institutions," without elaborating.
Rajab wrote on Twitter on Sept. 28 that security institutions are "the first ideological incubator" for Bahrainis who joined the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
A video recently released purportedly shows four Bahrainis who joined the Islamic State group calling on other Bahrainis to take up arms against the Sunni monarchy and the tiny-island country's majority Shiites. They also call for a Sunni boycott of upcoming Nov. 22 parliamentary elections.
One of the militants in the video is an officer who defected from Bahrain's Interior Ministry, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said America was concerned about Rajab's detention.
"We urge the government of Bahrain to protect the universal rights of freedom of expression and assembly, and to reconsider charges against citizens accused of peaceful expression of opinion," Psaki said. "We also continue to call on the government of Bahrain to abide by its commitment to fair and transparent judicial proceedings, and to resolve this case as expeditiously as possible."
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