Bahrain jails, revokes citizenship of Shiites over Iran ties


Bahrain sentenced two nationals to jail terms Wednesday and stripped them of their citizenship after they were convicted of training in Iran and the "possession of weapons for terrorist purposes".

The Sunni-ruled Gulf archipelago with a majority Shiite population has been rocked by unrest since 2011, with protesters demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected government.

Hundreds of people have since been arrested and a string of high-profile clerics and activists jailed and stripped of citizenship as the authorities crack down on dissent.

On Wednesday, a statement from the public prosecutor's office said the defendants had been convicted of charges including training in the use of firearms and explosives and possessing weapons intended for "terrorist" use.

They were each jailed for five years.

A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said both defendants were Shiite Muslims.

Authorities in the key American ally across the Gulf from Iran have reported several attacks on police across the kingdom in recent months, some deadly.

Bahrain has accused Iran of backing the protests to destabilise the tiny country, an accusation Tehran denies.

The Bahraini parliament this year passed a constitutional amendment allowing military courts to try civilians charged with "terrorism", a vaguely defined legal term.

Ruled for more than two centuries by the Al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a British military base that is still under construction.

The country is also part of a Saudi-led alliance that cut ties with Qatar in June over allegations Doha supported Islamist extremist groups and had close ties to Iran.

Qatar, which is itself home to the largest US air base in the Gulf, has denied the allegations.

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