DUBAI: Bahrain’s appeals court sentenced the head of the country’s Shiite opposition movement to jail for life Sunday over charges of spying for rival Gulf state Qatar, a judicial source said.
Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement, had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdit the public prosecution appealed.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the emirate over what they say are Doha’s ties to both Iran and radical groups.
In June, A Bahraini court acquitted the jailed head of the Shia opposition of all charges in his trial for alleged spying for regional rival Qatar, prompting the kingdom’s attorney general to announce he would appeal.
Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Bahrain’s largest and now banned Shia opposition group al Wefaq was found not guilty along with two of his aides, who were tried in absentia, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.
Groups including the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, confirmed his acquittal.
“Sheikh Ali Salman was found innocent,” Sheikh Maytham al-Salman of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “We hope this ruling opens the way for dialogue and reconciliation.”