Last updated: 22 October, 2012

Detained Bahrainis deny defaming king on Twitter

Four Bahrainis arrested last week on charges of “defaming” the king on Twitter denied the accusations in court on Monday, saying they were innocent, their lawyers said.

The defendants, who appeared before a criminal court judge for posting on Twitter insulting comments about King Hamad bin Isa Al-Thani, “denied the accusations against them,” said one of their lawyers on condition of anonymity.

The lawyer said the defence team requested that the defendants be released pending further investigation, but so far it has not received any response.

The next hearing is scheduled for October 31.

On October 17, the government announced the arrest of the four defendants, promising a swift and “urgent trial before a criminal court.”

After the arrest, Bahrain’s public prosecution announced it had “interrogated the accused and ordered them to be held in custody for seven days pending trial.”

Regular demonstrations have shaken Bahrain since it crushed a Shiite-led uprising against the ruling Sunni regime in March last year.

The kingdom came under strong criticism from international rights groups over the deadly crackdown.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite Iran, has continued to see sporadic demonstrations, though mostly outside the capital Manama.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, a total of 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence began on February 14, 2011.