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A Bahraini appeals court on Monday more than doubled the prison term for the country's top Shiite opposition figure in a ruling that his political bloc blasted as "unacceptable and provocative."

Sheikh Ali Salman now faces nine years behind bars, up from an earlier four, following his conviction last year on charges that included incitement and insulting the Interior Ministry.

Salman is the secretary-general of Al-Wefaq, the country's largest Shiite political group. He was a key figure in Bahrain's 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising, which was dominated by the island nation's Shiite majority and sought greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy.

Authorities crushed the initial uprising in a matter of weeks with help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Localized protests continue in Shiite communities, with young activists frequently clashing with police.

Occasional small bomb attacks have killed police officers in the country, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

The case against Salman relates to speeches he gave between 2012 and 2014, though Al-Wefaq has said his words were taken out of context. He was convicted and sentenced by a lower court in June.

Both sides appealed that verdict, with the court ruling Monday in favor of the prosecution while rejecting Salman's appeal, according to a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency.


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