Jailed high-profile Bahraini activist Nabeel rajab was Wednesday sentenced to five more years behind bars over tweets critical of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen war and on the alleged mistreatment of prisoners, in a trial rights groups slammed as "shameful".
Yesterday Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the State Department, said officials were "disappointed" by Rajab's convictions and said the U.S. is continuing "conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns".
He's already serving a two-year sentence handed down in July over television interviews he gave that included criticism of Bahrain.
He has suffered from poor health, however, and has been transferred to hospital several times.
But Rajab's son Adam tweeted that his father's "first reaction to the court ruling was to smile and flash the sign to hold strong". Its constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
As a result, he was tried on charges of disseminating false rumours in time of war, offending a foreign country, and insulting a statutory body.
Worldwide rights groups denounced the ruling as a violation of freedom of expression.
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The kingdom's leading human rights groups - the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy - confirmed the charges and sentence. He was released in May 2014 after serving two years, but was detained again over his comments on Twitter. It took another six months for the prosecutor to investigate and file charges against him, and he later received the two-year sentence.
He is also under investigation for writing in the French newspaper Le Monde that Western countries should reconsider their support for Gulf Arab monarchies because they were fuelling Islamist extremism.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifa regime's crackdown.
However, the Shiite majority accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens.
He has been in and out of jail since he helped lead a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
America has faced criticism over its stance on Bahrain, which hosts over 7,000 US troops, mostly sailors attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity in Manama. It also sold the country 16 fighter jets with no human rights conditions attached.
At a briefing Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described Rajab as a "prominent human rights activist" and said American officials were "disappointed" by his recent convictions.