Bahrain sentenced opposition leader Sheik Ali Salman to four years in jail on Tuesday on charges of inciting unrest, a decision that an opposition group said could stoke more protests in the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom.
Salman, 49, is the most senior figure in Shi'ite opposition to be jailed since anti-government protests erupted in 2011, at the height of the region's "Arab Spring" uprisings.
"The Higher Criminal Court sentenced the secretary general of one of Bahrain's political societies to four years imprisonment," advocate general Haroon al-Zayani was quoted as telling state news agency BNA.
Salman, who was not named in the statement, was convicted on charges of "publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions."
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has experienced sporadic turmoil since mass protests in 2011 led by majority Shi'ites demanding reforms and a bigger role in government. That uprising was put down with military help from Saudi Arabia.