Qatar rejects accusations of meddling in Bahrain internal affairs
Rights groups have declared Salman and other jailed opposition leaders prisoners of conscience [Reuters]
KONFRONTASI-Qatar rejects accusations of meddling in Bahrain's political disputes and internal conflicts, Qatar's foreign ministry said on Monday.
Three senior members of Bahrain's opposition movement were sentenced to life in prison on Sunday over charges of spying for Qatar.
''The State of Qatar condemns that its name was mentioned in Bahrain's internal conflicts,'' the ministry said in a statement.
The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed al-Wefaq movement, as well as Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad came months after their acquittal by the high criminal court in June.
Sultan and al-Aswad were tried in absentia.
The trio was sentenced for "acts of hostility" against Bahrain and "communicating with Qatari officials... to overthrow constitutional order", the public prosecutor's statement said.
Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case - "inciting hatred" in the kingdom, which has seen mainly Shia protests against the Sunni monarchy since 2011.
In November, Salman and two other members of al-Wefaq were charged with working for Qatari intelligence with the aim of overthrowing the Bahraini government.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have declared Salman and other jailed opposition leaders prisoners of conscience.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member.
Sunday's verdict comes days before Bahrain's November 24 parliamentary elections. Members of dissolved opposition parties, including al-Wefaq and the secular al-Waad group, are banned from running.
The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011 when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.[mr/aje]