An unidentified Bahraini man walks past anti-government graffiti on Thursday, scrawled in the village of Malkiya, Bahrain. It reads: "Arresting these figures, especially [Abdul Jalil Al] Singace and (Shaikh Habib) Moqdad, is being done to create more political tension." Image Credit: AP

Manama: Bahrain's authorities charged an opposition activist with seeking to overthrow the government, his lawyer said.

Abdul Jalil Al Singace, the head of the human rights section of the opposition Haq movement, potentially faces the death penalty, lawyer Mohammad Al Tajer said by telephone from the capital, Manama.

He was arrested on August 13 as he flew back to Bahrain from London.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has faced riots since authorities rounded up scores of Shiite opposition activists in a series of arrests that began in mid-August.

The government says the detainees had been planning to carry out acts of terrorism and violence, while Bahraini human rights groups have described the arrests as a crackdown aimed at cementing control before October parliamentary elections.

Prisoners of conscience

Al Singace had been in London to testify about the human rights situation in Bahrain to a meeting at the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the UK parliament.

The number of arrests has now reached about 230, said Al Tajer. Three other Shiite activists, whom he is representing face the same charges as Al Singace, he said.

Many among Bahrain's poor, mostly Shiite communities retain family and cultural ties to Iran.

London-based Amnesty International criticised the arrests in an August 18 statement that said the activists may be "prisoners of conscience".