A Bahraini politician was arrested for comments he made during an interview with the American press while the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were on an official visit to the country earlier this month.
Politician Ebrahim Sharif, the former leader of Bahrain’s secular National Democratic Action Society who currently works in the Waad Party, was arrested and charged with inciting hatred after he gave an interview to the Associated Press stating that the Prince of Wales’ tour of Bahrain could “whitewash” the ongoing crackdown on dissent.
Sharif told the AP, “”I don’t see what’s gone on behind closed doors or whether the prince raised any questions of human rights.”
“Bahrain’s government values its relations with the U.K. and if the U.K. puts its weight behind the improvement of human rights in Bahrain, the government will listen. They need friends.”
The Bahrain News Agency released a short news story on Sharif’s arrest on 13 November, stating, “…An individual had defamed Bahrain’s constitutional system in a statement to a foreign newspaper. The Public Prosecution questioned the suspect, in the presence of his lawyer, and confronted him with the news report. He denied parts of it and the Public Prosecution ordered his release after charging him with openly inciting hatred of the political system in Bahrain and with contempt.”
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have released statements about Sharif’s arrest.
Elizabeth Trudeau, the U.S. State Department’s Director of Public Relations, said, “No one anywhere should be prosecuted or imprisoned for engaging in freedom expression, even when that expression is critical. Any charges against Sharif on that basis, should be dropped.”
The British Foreign Office released a statement that read, in part, “The UK supports freedom of expression as an essential element of a full range of universal human rights, and we continue to encourage the government of Bahrain to deliver on its international and domestic human rights commitments.”