Denmark's Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal
Bahrain is examining a request from Denmark's Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal, pictured here in 2011, to transfer to Denmark a jailed Shiite activist who has been on hunger strike for almost two months, who is also a Danish citizen, the BNA news agency reported Saturday. © Britta Pedersen - AFP/DPA/File
Denmark's Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal
AFP
Last updated: April 7, 2012

Denmark seeks custody of Bahraini hunger striker

Bahrain is examining a request to transfer to Denmark a jailed Shiite activist who has been on hunger strike for almost two months, who is also a Danish citizen, the BNA news agency reported Saturday.

"Foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa received a written letter from Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal asking that Abdulhadi al-Khawaja be transferred to Denmark since he holds a Danish citizenship," Bahrain's state news agency said.

The request was referred to the head of the Supreme Judicial Council who is due "to study it and make a decision," BNA added.

Khawaja, who was condemned with other opposition activists to life in jail over an alleged plot to topple the Sunni monarchy during a month-long protest a year ago, began his hunger strike on the night of February 8-9.

Front Line Defenders, a Dublin-based non-governmental organisation, warned Tuesday after a visit to Manama that Khawaja, who it said has shed 25 percent of his body weight, could die in jail as he is "at risk of organ failure."

Bahraini authorities said Wednesday that Khawaja lost some 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of weight and that he was showing signs of low hemoglobin, "although not at a critical level, since prior to going on the strike."

They said in a statement that Khawaja was "taking fluids, mineral supplements, glucose and juice on a daily basis."

Bahrain's largest opposition movement Al-Wefaq has urged the international community to intervene and press for his release, in a statement Friday as hundreds of people demonstrated in the kingdom demanding his release.

Khawaja has been allowed visits by the ambassador of Denmark, the government said.

Tensions have been running high in Bahrain where an independent inquiry said in November that 35 people were killed in the Shiite-led unrest between mid-February and mid-March 2011.

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