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Bahrain denies released activist was unfairly targeted

Bahrain on Friday denied that a released activist was targeted due to her family ties with a government critic.

Hajer Mansoor, 51, was released on Thursday after completing a three-year prison term on charges that rights groups said were fabricated as an act of reprisal.

In a statement on Friday, the government said it “reiterates that Hajer Mansoor was sentenced in October 2017 on security related charges and terrorist crimes.”

“Hajer Mansoor’s imprisonment is not linked to her family relationship with Sayed Alwadaei,” it added.

London-based Alwadaei, Mansoor’s son-in-law, is head of advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

Activist groups said the case against Mansoor was meant to intimidate Alwadaei and other Bahraini activists.

But Bahrain said Friday that “all criminal acts are prosecuted in accordance with internationally recognised standards” and that “individuals are granted fair and equal treatment within the independent criminal justice system”.

Mansoor, her son and nephew were sentenced to prison in October 2017 after being accused of planting a fake bomb in a district south of the capital Manama.

Mansoor’s son Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to 11 years behind bars, while her nephew Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor is due to be released in a month, according to BIRD.

Bahrain, a key US ally located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been gripped by bouts of unrest since 2011, when authorities cracked down on Shiite-led protests demanding political reform.

Since then, hundreds of protesters have been jailed or stripped of their nationality.

Bahrain claims Iran has trained and backed demonstrators in order to topple the Manama government, accusations Tehran denies.