Held since June 2016, Rajab is appealing against the five-year jail sentence he received in February 2018 for tweets criticizing conditions in a Bahraini prison and the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. He received a separate two-year prison sentence in July 2017 for criticizing the Bahraini authorities in TV interviews.
RSF and the 56 other NGOs are concerned that the date on which the court is due to issue its ruling on his appeal, 31 December, has been deliberately chosen by the Bahraini authorities in order to impose an even harsher sentence on Rajab that will trigger few protests from the international community because of the New Year celebrations.
The joint letter also calls for an independent and impartial investigation into the mistreatment that Rajab has reportedly received while in prison.
A total of 15 journalists and citizen-journalists are currently detained in connection with the provision of news and information in Bahrain, which is ranked 166th out of 180 countriesin RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
Read the joint letter, in the original English, below.