Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been released from prison following a court decision to convert his internationally criticised jail term into an alternative sentence.
Rajab wore a garland of white roses after his release on Tuesday, smiling while posing with his family. He will serve out the remainder of his prison term at home, his family reportedly said.
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Rajab, an outspoken critic of the Bahraini government and a leading figure in the 2011 pro-democracy protests, was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison over social media posts accusing authorities of prison abuse and criticising Saudi Arabia’s air bombardment in Yemen.
He had been in jail since 2016 and served another two-year term for torture allegations he made in a news interview. Rajab also faced a number of other cases, and it was unclear how much time he had left to serve.
Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a Shia-majority population, has kept a tight lid on dissent since the Shia opposition staged a failed uprising in 2011.
The sentence’s conversion was possible thanks to new legislation introduced in 2018 that allows Bahrain’s courts to convert jail terms into non-custodial sentences.