DUBAI, Aug 30, (AFP): Bahrain’s attorney general on Thursday said 13 people have been charged with terrorism offenses, over suspected ties to an anti-government protest movement that first emerged in 2011. “Charges of forming and funding a terrorist cell have been filed against six persons in custody and another seven charged in absentia,” said attorney general Ahmad al-Hamadi.
Hamadi said the 13 had ties to Bahrain’s so-called “February 14 Coalition” — a reference to a protest movement that emerged in 2011 against the al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled Bahrain for more than two centuries.
The group will also face charges of targeting police in a trial which is due to open on Sept 19. Protests have continued to rock the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom as authorities escalate their clampdown on political dissent, frequently accusing opposition figures of links to Shiite Iran.
Since 2011, hundreds of Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship and protesters and opposition leaders have been jailed or driven into exile. Bahrain accuses Iran of supporting the opposition in a bid to overthrow the government, but Tehran denies involvement. Manama has drawn harsh criticism from leading rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, over its treatment of the opposition. A key ally of Washington located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.