(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Bahraini security forces have stepped up their presence in Manama’s Diplomatic Area, in the lead up to Monday’s trial of the country’s opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.
The area is located within the Central Business District of Manama, which also houses the kingdom’s justice ministry and top courts.
Sheikh Salman, who is already serving a 4-year prison term, is due to stand trial on espionage charges after being accused of “spying for the state of Qatar” earlier this month.
Manama is using Salman’s interaction with Qatari officials, who acted as mediators during a 2011 Saudi-US initiative aimed at resolving Bahrain’s political crisis, to claim that Doha incited unrest in the kingdom.
The allegations come nearly six months into the lingering Persian Gulf crisis, which has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
Bahrain’s opposition Al Wefaq party has accused the regime of utilizing regional crises against its critics, pointing out that contacts between Doha and Sheikh Salman had the blessing of the Bahraini monarch.
Sheikh Salman was initially jailed in December 2014 and later charged with inciting hatred against the regime. Amnesty International and other rights groups classify him as a prisoner of conscience.