Last updated: 10 April, 2012

Danish PM: Bahraini prisoner in very critical condition

A jailed activist who has been on hunger strike in a Bahrain prison for the last two months is now in a very critical condition, Denmark’s prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said on Tuesday.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a Shiite with dual Danish and Bahraini nationality, was sentenced with other opposition activists to life in jail over an alleged plot to topple the Sunni monarchy during a month-long protest a year ago.

“Denmark demands that Danish-Bahraini citizen and human rights activist Khawaja be freed,” Thorning-Schmidt told a press conference.

“According to our information, Khawaja’s condition is very critical,” she added.

Khawaja’s lawyer Mohammed al-Jeshi told AFP on Monday that Khawaja was feared to have died, after Bahraini authorities turned down repeated requests to contact him.

The last time he contacted Khawaja was on Saturday, a day after he was moved from the interior ministry hospital into a military hospital in Manama, he said.

Reacting to his statement, Bahrain’s interior ministry said later Monday that Khawaja was in “good health”.

A Danish foreign ministry spokesman said Khawaja was alive on Monday according to “credible independent sources” who saw him that day.

Danish ambassador to Bahrain Christian Koenigsfeldt was not allowed to see the prisoner on Sunday or Monday, as he has done daily, the spokesman told AFP.

Denmark has asked Bahrain to send Khawaja to the Scandinavian country but Bahrain’s official news agency BNA reported on Sunday that Manama has rejected the request.

Amnesty International also called on Bahrain in a statement Tuesday to “immediately and unconditionally release” Khawaja, whose “health is rapidly deteriorating as he passes his 60th day of hunger strike.”

“At the very least, the authorities must immediately allow Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s family and lawyer to visit him,” the London-based rights watchdog said.

Meanwhile, Bahrain lashed out on Tuesday at foreign countries, asking them to stay out of its “internal affairs”.

The interior ministry said it “deplores the statements of some countries” on the health of Khawaja “due to inaccurate and misleading information, which is likely to cause chaos.”

Bahrain “calls on all states to respect its sovereignty and not interfere in its internal affairs” the ministry said. “No state has the right to demand the release” of a citizen or a resident of Bahrain condemned by the “honest and independent” judiciary of the country.