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Bahrain arrests man over critical Website

Bahrain arrests man over critical Website

Bahraini police have detained a man who runs a Website seen as critical of the Gulf Arab state's government and royal family, activists say.

They said on Monday that 27-year-old Ali Abdul-Imam, who runs www.bahrainonline.org, was held on Sunday for allegedly stirring hatred against the government and spreading false news that could jeopardise state security.

Officials were not immediately available to comment.

Bahraini lawyer Abdullah Hashim said the charges could carry a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

About 30 demonstrators, some with their mouths taped to protest against censorship, gathered outside the prosecutor's offices to support the arrested Website moderator.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders called for Abdul-Imam's release in a statement.

"Imprisoning someone for their journalistic work or posting an article on the Internet cannot be acceptable in any circumstance," the press freedom organisation said.

The government has banned the Website, where users often post views critical of the government and royal family, but it frequently changes its Web address to circumvent blocking by the Bahrain Telecommunications Co.

Bahrain, the Gulf's banking hub and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has introduced some reforms, but the opposition, led by the country's majority Shi'ite Muslims, want more rights in the Sunni-ruled island state.

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