Amnesty pleads for Ottawa man held in Bahrain

Amnesty International Canada is calling on the federal government to rescue an Ottawa man facing a five-year prison term in Bahrain after a judge refused to suspend his re-arrest.

Naser Al-Raas, 29, attended a pro-democracy rally in Bahrain last March and was soon after taken from the airport and allegedly tortured for a month.

“Al-Raas’ case is at a crucial stage and he is understandably very anxious and fearful,” said AIC Secretary General Alex Neve, who recently met with minister of state of foreign affairs Diane Ablonczy.

Last month, Al-Raas was convicted in civilian court for “gathering” and “spreading false news” and given one week to turn himself in.

According to Al-Raas’ fiancee, Zainab Ahmed, Ablonczy sent a letter saying “We have been advised by officials and like-minded countries that quiet diplomacy is the best approach as we seek to support and assist him.”

On Nov. 18, Al-Raas responded with a letter to Ablonczy pleading for help. “I have to say that right now I feel abandoned by my government. I hope you can change that,” he wrote.

Al-Raas’ appeal will be heard Nov. 22.

Amnesty International is pushing for Al-Raas’ release pending his appeal, all charges dropped, and letting him leave Bahrain.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/11/19/amnesty-pleads-for-ottawa-man-held-in-bahrain

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