Three activists held in Bahrain after UK horse show protest

RIYADH (Reuters) – Bahraini security forces detained family members of three U.K.-based activists on Saturday over their protests against the Gulf king’s attendance at a royal horse show in Britain, one of the activists said.
The activists have been protesting against King Hamad’s attendance at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. State-run Bahrain News Agency photographs have shown King Hamad with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said his sister had received a call summoning her to Muharraq police station for interrogation on Saturday morning.
“This is a new low by the Bahraini authorities: blackmailing activists by detaining their family members in Bahrain,” said Alwadaei.
The father and sister of two other activists also informed their family members that they were being held.
A spokesman for the Bahraini interior ministry declined to comment.
Alwadaei’s family members were previously detained in October, after he shouted at a car carrying King Hamad as it approached British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office for a visit.
A mainly Shi’ite Muslim-led opposition in Bahrain has faced a government crackdown since last year in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
The Bahraini government denies accusations of systematic rights abuses.

(Reporting by Katie Paul)