The U.S. Government is deeply concerned by the June 16 conviction and sentencing by a Bahraini court of Shaikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of al Wifaq. As we have consistently said, opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic states and societies. Creating an atmosphere in which a full range of political opinions can be peacefully expressed is essential in Bahrain, across the Middle East, and globally. As we pointed out in our December 31 statement, we are also concerned that this action has the potential to inflame tensions.
The United States believes that no one, anywhere, should be prosecuted or imprisoned for engaging in peaceful expression or assembly. Any charges against Ali Salman that were brought on that basis should be dropped. We also strongly urge the Government of Bahrain to abide by its commitment to the protection of freedom of expression.