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Bahraini national arrested for tweeting about election boycott | The Cube

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Bahraini national arrested for tweeting about election boycott | The Cube
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A Bahraini citizen has been arrested after tweeting about boycotting an upcoming parliamentary election, the state prosecutor has announced.

Bahrain's public prosecution office released a statement on Instagram on Tuesday morning, saying it had been alerted to the Twitter account of a citizen who had tweeted that they would not take part in the November 24 election.

The account holder was then summoned to the public prosecutor's office, interrogated, and charged with "violating the freedom of the referendum and obstructing the electoral process," the statement continued.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) identified the person detained as former politician Ali Rashed al-Asheeri, who was with the opposition al-Wefaq party.

Al-Asheeri had tweeted on November 8 saying he did not plan to vote in the upcoming election, in protest against restrictions on his rights.

"I am a Bahraini citizen deprived of my political and civil rights," he wrote. "So I and my family will boycott the parliamentary and municipal elections and not the law."

Five days after saying he would boycott the election, al-Asheeri tweeted Tuesday to say he was on his way to the public prosecutor's office after being summoned.

"I do not know the reason why," he added.

The public prosecutor put out its statement shortly after confirming the arrest of an unidentified male for the election tweets. Al-Asheeri has not tweeted since saying he was on his way to their office.

Euronews spoke to Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, the director of advocacy at BIRD, who said that to be arrested for simply tweeting about the decision not to vote "really tells you everything you need to know about the nature of the upcoming elections."

Government officials in Bahrain "want to have some sort of election to provide legitimacy to themselves," he said. "And, unfortunately, this comes at the cost of imprisoning individuals."

Al-Wadaei said the group have not been able to contact al-Asheeri himself, but that al-Asheeri's lawyer confirmed his detention.

Election controversy

The legitimacy of the November 24 election for the Council of Representatives in Bahrain's national assembly has been widely questioned by the international community after Bahrain banned any opposition parties from running.

And just last week, Bahrain sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of the opposition al-Wefaq party, to life in prison.

Amnesty International said Salman's sentencing was a "travesty of justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities' relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent."