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Bahrain extends activist's custody despite UN outcry: Lawyer

AFP , Saturday 6 Sep 2014
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A Bahrain court ruled Saturday that prominent rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja be kept behind bars for an extra 10 days despite a UN call for her release, her lawyer said.

The Bahraini co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, who also has Danish nationality, was arrested on August 30 on arrival in Manama in connection with an assault on a police officer at the airport.

Her lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi told AFP by phone that the judge ordered that Khawaja be kept in custody on the same charge.

The United Nations called on Friday for Bahrain to release Khawaja, a member of the island kingdom's Shiite majority and the daughter of prominent opponent Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

He was jailed for life following 2011 protests against authorities in the Sunni-ruled state across the Gulf from Shiite Iran.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday the agency was "seriously concerned" that Khawaja had been arrested.

"We urge the government to take immediate steps to release Ms. Khawaja and all human rights defenders and individuals detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights," she said in a statement.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was convicted of plotting to topple the monarchy, has been on hunger strike along with other inmates since August 25.

He staged a 110-day hunger strike in 2012 in protest against his imprisonment.

Tiny but strategic Bahrain, home base for the US Fifth Fleet, remains deeply divided three years after the authorities crushed month-long protests with Saudi-led military backing.

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