UN experts ask Bahrain to respect prominent sheikh's rights

FILE -- In this Nov. 21, 2014 file photo, prominent Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, speaks during midday prayers Friday, in the village of Diraz, Bahrain. United Nations experts have called on Bahrain to ensure a prominent Shiite cleric's rights are respected as he is now hospitalized. The experts issued a statement Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, on the case of Qassim, in his late 70s, who supporters say suffers from a hernia and was hospitalized on Monday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — United Nations experts have called on Bahrain to ensure a prominent Shiite cleric's rights are respected as he's now hospitalized.

The experts issued a statement Thursday on the case of Sheikh Isa Qassim, a Shiite cleric in his late 70s who supporters say suffers from a hernia. He was hospitalized on Monday.

Sheikh Isa could be deported at any time after authorities stripped his citizenship in June 2016 over accusations that he fueled extremism and laundered money. His supporters deny the allegations.

He had been under house arrest, though Bahrain's government says nothing stopped him from getting care.

Those offering the statement are independent human rights experts appointed by the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.

Bahrain's rulers are cracking down on all dissent, imprisoning or forcing politicians and activists into exile.

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