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Amnesty slams Bahrain over activist jail time

Bahrain's appeals court has upheld the conviction of an activist for tearing up a picture of the king. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called the decision a "vindictive assault on freedom of expression."

The Bahraini Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Zainab al-Khawaja for tearing up a photograph of Bahrain's King Hamad.

Zainab was arrested in October 2014 after committing the act, while facing charges for previous incidents of tearing up a photograph of the king.

The court reduced Zainab's sentence from three years in prison to one year. However, the court said the activist would still have to pay a fine of 3,000 dinars (7,080 euros, $8,000).

Zainab is the daughter of

rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja,

who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in pro-democracy protests in 2011, which nearly toppled the monarchy.

'Vindictive assault'

The London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed the court's decision, saying its aim was "to silence peaceful activists."

"It is ludicrous that Zainab al-Khawaja is facing a year in prison simply for tearing up a photo of the head of state," said James Lynch, Amnesty's deputy regional director.

The court's decision "to reject Zainab al-Khawaha's appeal for freedom and to incarcerate her for one year is a vindictive assault on freedom of expression and offers yet another example of the Bahraini authorities' use of oppressive tactics to silence peaceful activists," said Lynch.

Zainab is also appealing three other convictions, including a nine-month sentence for "insulting a public official."

ls/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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