The UK government should call for the release of a prominent Bahraini political activist who was charged with “inciting hatred of the political system” after he criticiced the recent visit to the Gulf kingdom by Britain’s Prince Charles, a rights group has said.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Ebrahim Sharif, former leader of the National Democratic Action Society, could face a prison term of up to three years, adding that it is a "clear violation of his right to free expression".

Sharif, whom authorities released pending trial, told Human Rights Watch that officers from the Cyber Crime Directorate called him in for questioning on the morning of November 13. He said they questioned him about his comments in the Associated Press article, after which a public prosecutor charged him with violating article 165 of Bahrain’s penal code.

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