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Bahrain denies hunger striker has disappeared, insist he is in 'good health'

Human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who previously worked for the Dublin-based Frontline Defenders, has been on hunger strike in Bahrain since 8 February.

BAHRAINI OFFICIALS INSISTED that a man who has been on hunger strike since early February is still in hospital and in “good health” – despite claims on social media that he had disappeared.

Human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who previously worked for the Dublin-based group Frontline Defenders, began a hunger strike since 8 February in protest over his detention.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry today insisted that the 51-year-old was well today, after alarming reports about his fate circulated on social media sites yesterday. Frontline Defenders have been campaigning for Al-Khawaja’s release. The group said on Monday:

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was tried by the National Safety Court of Bahrain, established after the suspension of the Constitution in March 2011. Abdulhadi’s trial was observed by Front Line Defenders and other international legal observers, and was found to be patently unfair and failed to live up to international fair trial standards.

Al-Khawaja, 51, and seven other Shiite activists were sentenced to life in prison last year. The convictions were part of Bahrain’s crackdown during the 14-month-old uprising by the country’s Shiite majority, which seeks to reduce the wide-ranging powers of the ruling Sunni dynasty.

The Interior Ministry statement described al-Khawaja as “is in good health, despite rumors” and added that “he is in hospital, receiving full medical care.”

On Monday, an appeals court delayed a decision until at least April 30 on efforts by al-Khawaja and others to challenge their convictions, which were issued by a military-led court.

Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected Denmark’s request to take custody of al-Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen. On Monday, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal called the situation “very, very serious.”

Additional reporting by the AP

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