Bahrain opposition leader denies charges as trial opens

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MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A lawyer for the head of Bahrain's leading Shiite opposition group says the cleric has denied all charges against him at the start of a closely watched trial in the strategic Gulf island nation.

Defense attorney Jalila al-Sayed said Ali Salman was allowed to briefly meet his wife and appeared in court wearing his clerical robe and turban.

She says Salman will continue to be held behind bars at least until his next court hearing on Feb. 25.

Salman is secretary-general of the al-Wefaq opposition group and has been detained since late December. His charges include incitement to forcibly topple the Sunni-dominated government.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. It faces ongoing unrest following 2011 anti-government protests led by its majority Shiite population.

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