A Bahraini appeals court has upheld an earlier ruling that handed five-year imprisonment sentences to nine Shia activists.
According to Judicial sources in the nation’s capital of Manama, the defendants, among them a photojournalist and an online activist, were convicted of calling for the downfall of the despotic Al Khalifa regime.
The court upheld an April ruling sentencing photographer, Hussain Hubail, and activist, Jassim al-Nuaimi, along with seven other Shias, to five years in prison, after convicting them of plotting to overthrow the ruling regime “through illegal means via media and social networks.”
They were also convicted of calling for and taking part in anti-government protest rallies in the previous year.
Attorneys for the Shia activists, however, insist that the defendants are innocent and were forced to confess to the allegations under duress.
The Saudi-backed Manama regime has detained hundreds of anti-government activists as part of its brutal crackdown on popular dissent.
Many of those arrested have been handed down lengthy jail terms for alleged involvement in anti-government protests.
Media rights group Reporters without Borders (RSF) had slammed their sentences in April, denouncing officials of the Persian Gulf kingdom for “cracking down on freedom of information” by arresting journalists and activists and carrying out “sham trials.”
On August 31, an appeals court upheld a controversial 10-year-jail term against photojournalist, Ahmed Humaidan, who was convicted over his presence at a 2012 attack on a police station.
Bahrain, the home base for the US military’s Fifth Fleet, remains deeply divided three years after authorities crushed the 2011 popular uprising.