Bahrain arrests 9 for 'misusing social media'

DOHA – Bahraini authorities have arrested nine people for "misusing social media," although activists say they were arrested for criticizing Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz online.

Bahrain's Interior Ministry said that that those arrested were aged between 19 and 29, adding that they would soon be referred to prosecutors, Bahrain's official news agency reported on Wednesday.

The detained youths have yet to be formally charged.

Some activists, however, said the youths were arrested after criticizing the late Saudi king – a close ally of Manama who died last Friday – on social media platforms.

Bahraini law calls for jail terms of up to two years – and maximum fines of 200 Bahraini dinars (roughly $530) – for anyone convicted of "insulting" foreign states or organizations that have missions in Bahrain.

Since 2011, Bahrain – a predominantly Shiite Gulf statelet with a Sunni monarchy closely allied with Saudi Arabia – has been beset by political instability, which the authorities blame on local Shiite political leaders and Iran.

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