Bahrain Arrests Prominent Rights Activistإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab, a leader of protests against authorities in the Gulf kingdom, has been arrested on his return from a trip abroad, the Interior Ministry and activists said on Sunday.
Rajab, who heads the non-governmental Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested at the airport late on Saturday over charges of "participating in illegal assembly and calling others to join," the center said in a statement.
His trial is expected to begin on Sunday.
"Nabeel Rajab arrested by order of public prosecution. All legal procedures are being taken," the Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account.
Rajab was returning from Lebanon where he met the representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to activist Mohammed al-Maskati, who travelled with him.
He was led away by people in plainclothes, Maskati wrote on his Twitter page.
The BCHR said Rajab could face further charges, as he was summoned for interrogation on April 26 accused of "insulting the statutory bodies."
It quoted Rajab as saying earlier that he refused to attend his trial, accusing Bahrain's judiciary system of not being fair.
"Given that Bahrain in essence lacks a judiciary system that is independent and/or fair, and is far from being in line with international standards of a fair trial, I have decided to boycott the trial against myself," he said.
"The judiciary system in Bahrain, today, is a tool used against human rights defenders and people calling for democracy and justice," he added.
The activist who is a member of the Bahrain's Shiite majority has had various standoffs with police over the past months as he led small protests in the center of Manama calling for democratic change in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
In one he claimed to have been beaten by riot police.
Rajab has insisted on demonstrating inside the capital, unlike the main Shiite opposition, which now stages its protests in Shiite villages, after last year's brutal crackdown on protesters who occupied Manama's Pearl Square for a month.
Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed since protests erupted in Bahrain in February last year.