Bahrain opposition leader acquitted in Qatar spy case

AFP , Thursday 21 Jun 2018

File photo: Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP photo)

A Bahraini court acquitted the head of the Shia opposition of all charges Thursday in his trial for alleged spying for regional rival Qatar, a judicial source and activists said.

Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Bahrain's largest -- and now banned -- Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq was found not guilty along with two of his aides, who were tried in absentia, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.

Groups including the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, confirmed his acquittal.

"Sheikh Ali Salman was found innocent," Sheikh Maytham al-Salman of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told AFP. "We hope this ruling opens the way for dialogue and reconciliation."

Sheikh Ali has been behind bars since 2014 serving a four-year jail sentence on charges of inciting hatred.

In November, he pleaded not guilty to new charges of communicating with a foreign state to commit acts hostile to the state of Bahrain -- specifically Qatar.

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