THE brother-in-law of a man given an “arbitrary” 11-year sentence in Bahrain has joined the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour and human rights groups in urging the UK Government to step up and demand his release.

Sayed Nizar Alwadaei was just 18 years old when he was sentenced in 2017 on what his family allege are “trumped-up charges” of planting a fake bomb.

The United Nations has deemed his imprisonment “arbitrary” and an "act of reprisal" for Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei’s human rights activism.

There are fears about Nizar’s health with reports he is experiencing severe neck pain and shortness of breath.

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There had also previously been an outbreak of tuberculosis in his crowded cell and his family were concerned over the delay in testing him. During this time, his family allege he spent four days in solitary confinement after demanding medical care.

In a letter seen by The National, Labour MSP Katy Clark wrote to Scottish External Secretary Angus Robertson asking him to urgently press the Bahrain embassy in the UK to release Nizar from prison.

On June 1, she called for the Scottish minister to contact his UK counterpart and seek his immediate release from prison, as requested by the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).

Robertson said Nizar’s detention is a "violation of international human rights” as he called for action from the UK amid warnings the prisoner is at “serious risk” from health complications.

The National: Now 23, Sayed Nizar Alwadaei has spent his entire adult life behind barsNow 23, Sayed Nizar Alwadaei has spent his entire adult life behind bars

He said the Scottish Government remains “deeply concerned” around allegations of torture against Nizar.

Responding to Clark’s letter, Robertson wrote: “I believe the UK Government could, and should, be doing more to make representations on Mr Alwadaei’s behalf.

“I do want to stress that the Scottish Government is committed to promoting and defending democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

“These are values which are shared across the political spectrum in this country and they form the foundation of the international rules based order.

“It is therefore incumbent on politicians of all parties to demonstrate leadership and to speak out on matters of human rights concern wherever they occur.”

Now 23, Nizar has spent all of his adult life behind bars, with Ahmed alleging he has been the victim of torture.

Clark told The National: “Bahrain’s treatment of Sayed Nizar Alwadaei is extremely alarming and completely at odds with international human rights law.

“A UN human rights watchdog has made clear he is being arbitrarily detained and he should be immediately released. I agree with Angus Robertson that the UK Government must be doing more to make representations on Mr Alwadaei’s behalf.

“However, we must be clear that any independent investigation must not be carried out by bodies connected to the Bahrain Government, given Amnesty International and UN Treaty bodies have argued these bodies are not independent from the government and are ineffective in executing their mandates.

The National: Sayed Nizar Alwadaei with his mother at his school graduation when he was 17, a year before his arrestSayed Nizar Alwadaei with his mother at his school graduation when he was 17, a year before his arrest

“The UK Government must urgently demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Alwadaei from detention and his transfer to a hospital so he can receive medical care.”

Ahmed said the imprisonment of his family had been in retaliation for his human rights work.

The director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy told The National the UK must follow Scotland’s lead.

He said: “It is important to see the Scottish Government condemning the unspeakable torture which my brother-in-law has suffered at the hands of Bahraini authorities.

“The UN deemed that his abuse was a reprisal for my human rights activism in the UK, and yet, the UK government has done next to nothing to stem the widespread violations committed by their abusive allies in Bahrain, committed against him and other political prisoners in Bahrain.

“It is high time for them to follow Scotland’s example and speak up.”

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Sima Watling, Amnesty International’s Mena Campaigner echoed Ahmed's calls.

They told The National: "The UK Government should take a leaf out of the Scottish book and condemn human rights violations in Bahrain.

"Sayed Nizar al-Wadaei, is imprisoned in reprisal against his exiled relative Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei and must be immediately released.

"Like scores of other prisoners, he is waiting for adequate medical treatment while the Bahraini authorities are dragging their feet and acting in total impunity under the watchful eyes of their allies who are ready to close their eyes to human rights violations for better trade agreements.

Husain Abdullah, executive director at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) accused the UK of “playing a key role in covering up Bahrain’s appalling abuses”.

He told The National: "Some of the Bahraini regime’s most serious crimes include the torture of peaceful dissidents and the arbitrary deprivation of their liberty. These violations are well documented by UN experts and rights groups.

“Despite this, over the past decade the UK government has played a key role in covering up Bahrain’s appalling abuses and propping up the brutal AlKhalifa dictatorship."

The UK Government and the Bahrain embassy in the UK have been approached for comment.