Bahraini authorities acknowledged on Thursday spying charges against prominent opposition figure, Sheikh Ali Salman, were false.
A court in the Gulf state acquitted the Secretary General of Al-Wefaq opposition group of all charges in his trial for alleged spying for regional rival Qatar, activists said.
“Sheikh Ali Salman was found innocent,” Sheikh Maytham al-Salman of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told AFP.
Multiple Bahraini activists confirmed his acquittal on Twitter but he remains behind bars serving a prison sentence for inciting hatred handed down in 2014.
In Thursday’s case, Sheikh Salman and two other officials from Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hassan Ali Juma Sultan and Ali Mahdi Ali al-Aswad, faced spying charges.
Sheikh Salman, 52, long has been targeted by the Bahraini regime. In 1994, he was arrested, tortured and detained for months without trial before being deported and forced to live in exile for over 15 years, according to the United Nations.
He was a prominent figure in Bahrain’s Arab Spring protests in 2011, in which the island’s Shiite majority and others demanded more freedoms from the Sunni monarchy.
In December 2014, two days after being re-elected as Al-Wefaq’s secretary-general, Salman was again arrested by security forces. This time, prosecutors brought him to trial on charges he insulted the Interior Ministry.