Iran, US slam Bahrain for jailing opposition leader

Tehran/Washington, June 17 (IANS) Iran and the US have condemned the sentencing of a Shia opposition leader to four years in prison by a Bahraini court.

“It is earnestly expected that the (Bahraini opposition) groups, which raise their demands peacefully, be treated fair and reasonably,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Marzia Afkham said in a statement in the ministry website in Wednesday.

Iran has urged the release of Shaikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Bahrain’s Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, she said, adding that security approaches do not help settlement of political problems in Bahrain.

Dialogue with moderate groups would secure peace in the country and would help resolve the political and social problems in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, she added.

“The US government is deeply concerned by the June 16 conviction and sentencing by a Bahraini court of Shaikh Ali Salman. As we have consistently said, opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic states and societies,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The US believes that no one, anywhere, should be prosecuted or imprisoned for engaging in peaceful expression or assembly. Any charges against Ali Salman that were brought on that basis should be dropped,” he added.

Shaikh Ali Salman was arrested last December in connection with speeches that were deemed by authorities to have incited hatred and disobedience in the country.

The Higher Criminal Court of Bahrain sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment on Tuesday for what it said “inciting hatred and non-compliance with the law and insulting a public institution”.

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