TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The government on Thursday rejected the findings of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, saying that Rajab's offences did not relate to his political views and that his trials had been independent and transparent.
"As in all countries, there is a distinct difference between legitimate criticism of government and attempts to incite public disorder," a government statement emailed to Reuters said.
Rajab was sentenced to five years in prison in February for criticizing Saudi Arabia's air strikes in Yemen and writing tweets accusing Bahrain's prison authorities of torture.
A leading figure in the pro-democracy protests, he was already serving a two-year term over a news interview in which he said Bahrain tortured political prisoners.
In a formal opinion posted overnight, the U.N. panel of five independent experts said that provisions of Bahrain's penal code were "so vague and overly broad" that people were punished for merely exercising their rights under international law.
"The Working Group therefore considers that Mr. Rajab’s deprivation of liberty is arbitrary," it said, adding that: "no such trial" should have taken place.