The United States voiced concern on Tuesday about the detention of leading Bahraini democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab and called on the Manama government to release him immediately.
The call by the US State Department came just two days after The New York Times published a letter by Rajab that said he was facing prosecution for his work exposing human rights abuses in Bahrain and criticizing the war in Yemen.
Prosecutors in Bahrain filed new charges on Monday against an unidentified man, believed by rights activists to be Rajab, for "publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately broadcast news, statements and false rumors that undermine the kingdom's prestige and stature."
Asked about the new charges, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was "very concerned" about Rajab's "ongoing detention and the new charges filed against him."
"We call on the government of Bahrain to release him immediately," Toner said. "We have concerns about the state of human rights in general in Bahrain and we're engaging with the government ... on all these issues."