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Doctor held for 'misusing' social media

manama 16x9

A Bahraini doctor arrested for his use of social media must be granted access to legal and medical support, urged the BMA.

Sa'eed Mothaher Habib al-Samahiji was arrested at his home in 'Issa town, around 15km south of the Manama (pictured), the capital, on 3 January for posting on Twitter.

Dr Sa’eed al-Samahiji told his family that he is being held for interrogation regarding a post about the execution of the prominent Saudi Shi’a cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi Arabian Government, and for insulting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Twitter.

The doctor still suffers from injuries sustained during a previous arrest in 2001 and concern is growing for his health while in Dry Dock prison in Manama.

BMA specialist adviser ethics and human rights Julian Sheather said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the re-arrest of Dr Sa’eed al-Samahiji for the peaceful expression of his political convictions.

'We understand that there are also grave concerns about his health, which has been fragile following earlier arrest and torture.

‘It is imperative that the Bahraini Government grant Dr Sa’eed al-Samahiji immediate access to a lawyer and to any medical treatment or support he may need.

'Given that the peaceful expression of political belief is protected under international law we also call for Dr Sa’eed al-Samahiji’s immediate release.’


Public insult

The Bahraini public prosecution published a statement on 4 January regarding the seven-day detention of a person accused of ‘misusing electronic networks to insult a brother nation and inciting unpermitted demonstrations which had led to demonstrations accompanied by violent acts’.

Dr Sa'eed al-Samahiji became a prisoner of conscience when he was previously arrested and prosecuted for making a short speech at a funeral he attended.

He was released in July last year after serving one year in prison for ‘publicly insulting the King of Bahrain’.

Amnesty International is calling on organisations such as the BMA to write to the Bahraini authorities to call for Dr Sa'eed al-Samahiji release and that he is given access to a lawyer and medical treatment.

The human rights organisation is also urging the authorities to repeal laws that criminalise the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

Find out more about the BMA's work on human rights

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