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torsdag 24. april 2014
Jyllands-Posten Jyllands-Posten news
News in English 09.04.12 kl. 10:34

Time running out for jailed human rights activist

Bahrain reportedly rejects request to have Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a Danish citizen, extradited to Denmark By Justin Cremer Despite what foreign minister Villy Søvndal characterised as the “largest Danish consular effort ever”, Bahrain has reportedly rejected a request to transfer jailed...

By Justin Cremer

Despite what foreign minister Villy Søvndal characterised as the “largest Danish consular effort ever”, Bahrain has reportedly rejected a request to transfer jailed Danish human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja to Denmark.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Sunday that Bahrain had formally rejected Søvndal’s request to have al-Khawaja, who holds dual Danish and Bahraini citizenship, extradited to Denmark.

“An official source in the Supreme Judiciary Council said that the Criminal Procedures Law stipulates the handing over of accused and convicted persons to foreign countries upon request under specific applicable conditions which should be satisfied and this does not cover the case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja,” a short report on BNA read.

Politiken newspaper, however, spoke with Foreign Ministry officials late on Sunday and they indicated that had not received a rejection of the request from Bahrain and are continuing in their efforts.

Al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence in Bahrain for demonstrating against the incumbent government and organising protests during the Arab Spring uprisings. He and eight others were sentenced last June on charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the government. It has been independently confirmed that al-Khawaja has been subjected to torture, violence and sexual abuse while jailed in Bahrain.

In protest of his sentence and treatment, al-Khawaja began a hunger strike on February 2. Now that it has lasted 60 days, his health has fallen drastically. As early as March 13, his lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi, told Al Jazeera that “ he can’t walk and even talking is hard”.

It was reported that al-Khawaja was transferred to a hospital last week on Friday due to kidney failure. His family members have indicated that he could die at any moment.

Despite his failing health, al-Khawaja has vowed to continue the hunger strike until he is either free or dead. Last week, the human rights activist sent a letter to his family, which read very much like a farewell message. His daughter, Zainab al-Khawaja, translated the letter and put it online.

“My dear and beloved family, from behind prison bars, I send to you my love and yearning,” the letter read. “From a free man, to a free family. These prison walls do not separate me from you, they bring us closer together ... We take our strength from beautiful memories.”

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