Three former top editors of Bahrain's main opposition newspaper will face trial for "unethical" coverage of Shiite protests against the Sunni rulers, according state media reports in the Gulf kingdom.
Bahrain's official news agency said the top editors of Al Wasat newspaper have been charged with "publishing fabricated news," ''harming public safety" and "damaging national interests."
No date has been set for the beginning of the trial.
Bahrain has sharply tightened Internet and media controls under the military rule imposed last month to quell protests by the country's Shiite majority against the Sunni monarchy that has ruled Bahrain for more than 200 years.
The Shiites are agitating for greater political freedoms and equal rights.
Al Wasat's editors, including its former chief editor, Mansoor al-Jamri, were questioned Monday by a prosecutor over the charges.
"I rejected all accusations that we knowingly published any false news," he said. "I also explained the extraordinary conditions we have been working in since March 15," he added, referring to the imposition of martial law.
Hundreds of Shiite activists, anti-government protesters and opposition leaders have been detained.
None of those in custody have been publicly charged with a crime or brought to trial.
Al-Jamri and the two other former Al Wasat editors will be the first to face trial since the anti-government protests in the tiny, but strategically important Gulf island began Feb. 14. Bahrain is the home of U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
On Monday, Bahrain's Interior Ministry said the country's leading human rights activist will be questioned by a military prosecutor.
The ministry accused Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, of posting on his Twitter account a "fabricated image" of a detainee, Ali Isa Saqer, who died in custody.
Rajab claims Saqer was beaten to death. He told The Associated Press that the photo showing Saqer's body covered with bruises and gashes was genuine.
At least 29 people have been killed since the protests began, including three opposition supporters who died in custody.
Al Wasat had been Bahrain's most popular opposition newspaper. Al-Jamri, a son of a prominent Shiite opposition leader, has lived in exile for more than 20 years. He returned to Bahrain in 2001 when the king granted him the license to establish a publishing company to run and print an independent newspaper.
The first edition of Al Wasat hit the newsstands in September 2002.
Since the emergency rule was declared last month, the newspaper's printing facility has been vandalized and its head office in the capital Manama had been surrounded by armed thugs. Its journalists and editors who have also been subjected to a "campaign of intimidation by the state media," al-Jamri said.