Two Bahraini Shia critics, known as members of the opposition, were charged Wednesday for espionage for Qatar in an attempt to destabilize the tiny Gulf monarchy, in what looks like a deepening of the diplomatic spat between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain plus Egypt on the other hand.
Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor has pressed espionage charges against Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of Al-Wefaq party, and Sheikh Hassan Sultan for colliding with Qatar to carry out ‘hostile attacks’ in Bahrain and damage its national interests and prestige, state-run news agency, BNA, reported.
The men, according to authorities, transferred confidential information to Qatar and received financial support from the Emirate. They additionally met with Qatari officials and affiliated agents of the Lebanon-based Shia group Hezboallah.
Al-Wefaq has been banned and its Secretary General Sheikh Salman has been arrested in 2015 and is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for inciting hatred and insulting the interior minister.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have severed ties with Qatar since June 5 over accusations that it supports terrorism.
Tuesday, Bahrain imposed visa on Qatari visitors and residents, a decision the government said was for security precautions.
On Sunday, it threatened to balk at participating in the December Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit if Qatar’s membership is not frozen or Doha does not change its policies.