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Bahrain arrests Al-Wefaq opposition leader - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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This November 12, 2014 file photo shows Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of Al-Wefaq, the main Shi'ite opposition group in Bahrain, speaking in the capital Manama. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

This November 12, 2014 file photo shows Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of Al-Wefaq, the main Shi’ite opposition group in Bahrain, speaking in the capital Manama. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Bahrain’s main Shi’ite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, has been arrested after a day of questioning at the Interior Ministry on numerous charges including calling for the forcible overthrow of the regime, his lawyer said.

Salman’s lawyer, Abdullah Al-Shamlawi, said: “The charges also included receiving support from abroad, false incitement, incitement against the government and incitement to hatred.”

The secretary-general of Al-Wefaq had earlier been summoned to the Interior Ministry as part of investigations into a series of speeches he delivered over the past three years.

An Interior Ministry statement announced: “The General Directorate for Criminal Investigations summoned Sheikh Ali Salman to the Ministry based on statements attributed to him violating Bahraini law.”

“Legal procedures are now being finalized ahead of referring the case to the Public Prosecution,” the brief statement—which was carried by Bahrain’s state news agency—said.

Salman’s lawyer, Abdullah Al-Shamlawi, confirmed that the Al-Wefaq leader is facing a number of incitement charges. Additional charges include broadcasting false news with the objective of causing public panic and charges relating to claims that he was tortured in prison, he added.

Shamlawi said that Salman roundly denies the charges against him and stresses the importance of peaceful protest in all of his speeches.

A source within Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Bahrain’s authorities are currently in the process of completing legal procedures against the Al-Wefaq leader.

“The case is very seriously and legal procedures are ongoing,” the source said.

Salman, who secured a fourth term as head of the opposition group at its general congress on Friday, was questioned over the content of 18 speeches he gave over a period of almost three years since 2012 until 5 December 2013, over accusations of inciting hatred.

Al-Wefaq, meanwhile, condemned its leader’s arrest, describing it as a “a perilous and arbitrary adventure which will seriously complicate the political and security scene in Bahrain,” and describing the charges against Salman as “malicious.”