"Ali Abd al-Imam, editor of the Bahrainonline website who has been in detention for 15 days, will appear before a prosecutor tomorrow," lawyer Ahmad al-Arayadh told AFP on Saturday.

"He might be kept in detention for another 15 days, freed or put on trial," Arayadh said.

Abd al-Imam was arrested on 27 February, and two technicians with the website - Hussain Yussif and Muhammad al-Musawi - were arrested on 1 March, on charges of "defaming the king, inciting hatred against the regime and spreading rumors and lies that could cause disorder," Arayadh said after their arrest.

'Defaming king'

But he stressed on Saturday that the trio were accused of running a website that made it possible to publish such material, not of writing the material themselves.

Ali Abd al-Imam "will decide whether he will go on hunger strike depending on the decision of the prosecutor tomorrow"

Hussain Abd al-Imam,
Ali Abd al-Imam's brother

Abd al-Imam's brother, Hussain, said he had visited him at the police station where he is being held and was told he had put off a hunger strike he had been due to start on Saturday.

Abd al-Imam "will decide whether he will go on hunger strike depending on the decision of the prosecutor tomorrow," Hussain said.

Abd al-Imam's two colleagues, who are also under detention for 15 days, will presumably be referred to the prosecutor once that period expires.


The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has meanwhile condemned the detentions.

Despite political reforms introduced by the Bahraini government in recent years, authorities have "criminally prosecuted journalists, censored foreign publications (and) censored political websites," the committee said in a statement, calling for the men's immediate release.

Police on Thursday night dispersed dozens of people who rallied outside the police station where the three are held in solidarity with the men.

In 2002, Bahrain's information ministry censored internet sites on the grounds of inciting sectarianism or propagating lies, sparking protests by activists.