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Wednesday, 25 June 2014 | MYT 4:46 PM

Bahrain opposition leader cleared of terrorism charges - lawyer

MANAMA (Reuters) - A senior member of Bahrain's Shi'ite opposition was cleared of terrorism charges on Wednesday, one of his defence lawyers said, a move that could help troubled talks with the government to end months of sporadic unrest.

Khalil al-Marzouq, deputy leader of the al-Wefaq party, was one of a number of opposition figures and activists detained since majority Shi'ites began protests in 2011 to demand political reform and a greater role in running the country.

Defence lawyer Galila al-Sayed said a court had acquitted Marzouq on charges of inciting terrorism in a number of speeches and had removed a travel ban on him.

Al Wefaq, which says it advocates non-violent activism, boycotted reconciliation talks with the Sunni-led government after Marzouq's arrest in September.

Bahrain's crown prince pulled the talks back from the brink in January by organising a meeting with al-Wefaq's leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

Protests and clashes continue in the island kingdom that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and is seen in the West as a key regional ally.

Bahrain passed strict laws against what it called acts of terrorism in 2013, setting tougher penalties including longer prison terms and the stripping of Bahraini nationality.

(Reporting By Farishta Saeed; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


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