Activist's family departs Bahrain after earlier travel ban

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) " The wife and child of a Bahraini activist flew out of the island nation Tuesday, days after being blocked from leaving the country following a protest incident in London during the king's last visit.

Activist Sayed Alwadaei said an American diplomat accompanied his wife, Duaa, and his infant son to Bahrain's international airport. The two later landed safely in London onboard a commercial flight.

Late last month in London, Alwadaei, who is director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, jumped on a car carrying Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

That same night in Bahrain, Alwadaei said his wife was beaten by police at the airport and told neither she nor her son, who holds U.S. citizenship, could leave.

The Bahraini Embassy in the Britain issued a series of tweets on Tuesday alleging Alwadaei's wife had "failed to cooperate" with airport security and "assaulted a female police officer." They did not elaborate, only saying the incident led to her being put on a temporary travel ban that was later lifted.

The incident comes amid the harshest crackdown on dissent in Sunni-ruled Bahrain since its 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests.

Demonstrators in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, called for greater political freedoms on the island for its Shiite majority population and others. The government crushed the protests with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The island just off Saudi Arabia's coast also faces mounting economic pressure as its oil-dependent economy suffers from depressed global crude prices.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jon-gambrell

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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