Last updated: 11 April, 2012

Bahraini prisoner weak but conscious

A jailed activist who has been on hunger strike in a Bahrain prison for the last two months is weak but still conscious, a top Danish diplomat said Wednesday.

The head of consular services in the foreign ministry, Ole Engberg Mikkelsen, said Danish ambassador Christian Koenigsfeldt had been able to spend 20 minutes late Tuesday with Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has dual Danish and Bahraini nationality.

Koenigsfeldt, whose daily visits to Khawaja were denied by Bahraini authorities on Sunday and Monday, had asked to see him again on Wednesday, Mikkelson said.

“It’s clear that he is very weak after such a long hunger strike (but) he is conscious,” Mikkelsen told AFP.

Khawaja, a Shiite, 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.

Khawaja’s lawyer Mohammed al-Jeshi said Wednesday his client, who stopped taking food on February 9, was determined to pursue his protest “until he is released.”

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a press conference on Tuesday that Denmark was demanding that Khawaja be freed.

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

Bahrain’s interior ministry said Monday that Khawaja was in “good health”.

Copenhagen has asked Bahrain to allow Khawaja to leave for Denmark but Bahrain’s official news agency BNA reported on Sunday that Manama has rejected the request.

Bahrain’s interior ministry said Tuesday that “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 Gulf monarchy.