US: Arrest of Bahraini opposition leader could inflame tensions

The State Department is voicing concern over the arrest of a Bahraini opposition leader, warning that Shaikh Ali Salman’s detention could “inflame tensions.”

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Bahraini prosecutors on Thursday issued a statement on Thursday that said Salman was being interrogated on charges that include spreading ideas to defy the regime and authorities, Reuters reported.

The statement also said that Salman is being questioned in the presence of lawyers and his family has been allowed to visit him, according to the news service.

“Opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic states and societies,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement late Wednesday.

“We strongly urge the Government of Bahrain to follow due process in this and all cases and abide by its commitment to transparent judicial proceedings conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations. We also call on all parties to avoid escalatory actions and to employ public rhetoric that clearly and unambiguously rejects all forms of violence,” Rathke added.

Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, told Reuters that the detention of the Shiite opposition leader would have “serious consequences.”