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Bahrain says it will release prominent female activist

Updated at: 05/10/2016 2:24 AM
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(AP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain's Foreign Ministry said Monday that a prominent female political activist will be released after nearly two months in prison.

The ministry said in a statement on its website that Zainab al-Khawaja is being released on humanitarian grounds because of her year-old son, who was permitted to be with her in prison in a dedicated ward for new moms. It referred to her as a foreign national despite the fact that she has dual Danish-Bahraini citizenship.

She had faced three years in prison over a variety of charges related to her participation in anti-government protests, including several in which she tore up pictures of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Al-Khawaja's sister Maryam told The Associated Press that she remains imprisoned and that her lawyer says the prison had not been informed to release her yet.

She was detained March 14, on the fifth anniversary of when Gulf troops suppressed protests in the tiny island kingdom. Bahrain, with the help of Saudi forces, quashed Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011 led by its Shiite majority demanding greater rights from the Sunni-led monarchy.

Al-Khawaja is the daughter of prominent activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence over his role in anti-government protests.

Human rights groups had been calling for her release and on Western leaders to publicly chastise Bahrain's government for its arrest of activists and what they say is routine discrimination against Shiites.

Bahrain, which sits in the Persian Gulf just off the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)