A United Nations expert has called on Bahrain to release an activist recently detained along with her year-old son in the island kingdom.

Michel Forst, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, made the statement Friday regarding the detention of Zainab al-Khawaja and her son, Abdulhadi.

Al-Khawaja is a daughter of a prominent activist serving a life sentence over 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests in the small nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia.

She faces several years in prison on a variety of charges linked to her activism, including tearing up pictures of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, saw its Shiite majority protest the kingdom's Sunni rulers in 2011, demanding more political freedoms. Smaller-scale protests continue today.