Bahrain has charged jailed Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman with “spying” for Qatar, state prosecutors said on Wednesday, after allegations he whipped up protests at Doha’s request.
The investigation into purported links between Salman and Qatar was first launched in August, after a quartet of Arab countries — Bahrain included — accused their gas-rich neighbour of supporting terrorism and close relations with Iran.
State-run Bahrain Television aired a report which claimed that neighbouring Qatar was behind anti-government protests that have shaken the tiny kingdom for the past six years.
It alleged that Qatar’s former premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani contacted Salman — then head of Bahrain’s largest opposition group, Al-Wefaq — in 2011 and asked him to urge protesters to flood the streets and ramp up pressure on the state.
Salman has been behind bars since 2014 serving a nine-year sentence for allegedly inciting hatred.
He has now been charged with “spying on behalf of a foreign country … with the aim of carrying out subversive acts against Bahrain and harming its national interests,” the Bahraini prosecutor’s office said in a statement.