Public Statement: the Trial of
Hassan Salman and its Implications

Bahrain Human Rights Monitor (BHRM) expresses concern over the events that accompanied the trial and conviction of Hassan Salman, 26, former employee of the General Authority for Insurance and Pensions. Hassan Salman was accused of revealing secrets, which had been obtained during official duty, and endangering national security in Bahrain. At the same time the BHRM is of great concern over attempts by some Bahraini human rights organizations to exploit the criminal process against Hassan Salman for gains that have nothing to do with human rights. The BHRM condemn such action because it portrays criminal activities as human rights. Furthermore, this will affect the credibility of the human rights work, casts doubt on the professionalism of some human rights organizations and its adherence to the fundamentals and principles of human rights.

Such developments came as a result of a decision by a Bahraini criminal court on 16 September 2009. The court sentenced Hassan Salman to 3 years’ imprisonment on charges of divulging secrets concerning his work. The facts of the case related to the revelations made by Hassan Salman, who works as computer systems analyst at the General Authority for Social Insurance «retirement». Hassan published the names of all staff of the national security in a website in the Internet, in disregard of the confidentiality of information. The trial received wide coverage by the media and the Bahraini press published the details of the trial, which was public. The court convicted Salman for his disclosure of information and secrets, which he obtained by virtue of his post, and thus contravening the principle of a public official in the confidentiality of information and lack of diversion. We do not want to go into the legal controversy to the court›s ruling as long as the stages of appeal against the verdict are still open to Hassan Salman, and as long as the trial had matched the standards of a fair trial.

After the verdict, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights expressed concern about the trial of the accused for passing on information about the national security service, and expressed regret for the Public Prosecution Office in Bahrain to investigate Hassan Salman. The Centre said that there’s no proof that Hassan Salman had leaked the information. The Centre called on regional and international organizations to take action to counter the court›s decision, demanded the immediate release of Hassan Salman, and called on the authorities to refrain from targeting human rights defenders.

According to information received by the BHRM, the defendant had confessed without pressure or coercion that he had leaked the information and posted it on the Internet, and that what he did came as a reaction to the arrest by the security authorities of Sheikh Habib Miqdad and political activist Hassan Mushaimie’. The BHRM fears of a repeat of the politicization of criminal cases and turn them into political issues. This emerged and evident in some public statements that did not deal with the reasons that led to the trial of Hassan Salman, nor did they discuss the applicability of the Bahraini criminal law to such cases, and did not address whether Hassan Salman had received fair trial or not. It is not clear how leaking secret information by a public official means in the final analysis targeting human rights defenders? Are public servants entitled, under any justification, to leak information obtained by virtue of their job? Is such conduct falls under the right to exercise freedom of expression, or is it offense punishable under the provisions of national laws in all countries of the world?

The BHRM calls again on all human rights activists and defenders, and national and international human rights organizations for non-politicization of criminal cases and transforming them into human rights issues. Furthermore, BHRM calls upon them to distance human rights subjects from the political conflict because this does not serve human rights issues in Bahrain. The BHRM will continue to follow-up the developments of the case of Hassan Salman in a professional manner, and will ensure that fair trial standards were followed in this case.