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BAHRAIN’S former opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif was sentenced to six months in prison today for tweets critical of Sudan’s authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir who faces mass protests against his rule.
The country’s lower criminal court issued the jail term along with a 500 Bahraini dinar fine to suspend the sentence after Mr Sharif tweeted calls for an end to tyranny and freedom for the Sudanese people on December 25 last year.
Using the hashtag “Cities of Sudan rise up” he accused the Sudanese government of intensifying the situation and worsening conditions for the poor.
Mr Sharif is the former leader of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) which was shut down earlier this year as part of a clampdown on opposition in Bahrain.
He was summoned to court by the public prosecutor on December 30 for “insulting a head of state” and urging Mr Bashir to resign.
Protests in Sudan are being violently suppressed by the authorities, with nearly 60 people killed in clashes with security services, according to human rights groups after months of demonstrations calling for Mr Bashir to step down.
He has ruled Sudan since coming to power in a 1989 coup and in 2009 he became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for directing a co-ordinated campaign of rape, murder and pillage against civilians in Darfur.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) strongly condemned the sentencing and demanded the Bahraini authorities drop the charges.
Bird director Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei said: “Today’s judgement is a slap in the face to freedom of expression and demonstrates the paranoia of the ruling family about the exposure of the human rights abuses of their fellow Arab dictators.”
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