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Report: Bahrain to charge 23 with belonging to a 'terrorist network'

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The charges include plotting to overthrow the government, according to Bahrain News Agency
  • The BNA reports that arrests were made starting August 13
  • Two London-based Bahraini nationals are also accused

(CNN) -- Bahrain says it plans to charge 23 people for plotting to overthrow the government and for belonging to what officials described as a sophisticated terrorist network, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Saturday.

The agency said the charges, to be brought by public prosecutors, follow an intelligence operation and that arrests of those in the network started on August 13.

Bahrain is a tiny island kingdom on Saudi Arabia's eastern coast. It is predominantly Shiite but has Sunni rulers. Among the accused, at least 20 are Shiite opposition leaders, according to Reuters.

"This sophisticated terrorist network with operations inside and outside Bahrain has undertaken and planned a systematic and layered campaign of violence and subversion aimed squarely at undermining the national security of Bahrain," said Bahraini public prosecution official Abdulrahman al-Sayed, according to BNA.

Members of the suspected 23-man network include academics, taxi drivers, civil servants and dentists, BNA reported.

It said two London-based Bahraini nationals would also be charged.

"The Kingdom of Bahrain is proud of its open society and on-going democratic reforms that allow for freedom of expression and peaceful protest," said Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, BNA reported.

"However, no democracy can allow freedoms to extend to the perpetration, planning and instigation of violence that seeks to undermine the stability of the nation and threaten the lives of all its citizens," he said. "No one is above the law."