A U.K.-based Bahraini activist says three members of his family have been sentenced to three years in prison each in reprisal for his efforts to shine a spotlight on the government's crackdown on opposition and rights groups.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, says his 49-year-old mother-in-law, 18-year-old brother-in-law and a 30-year-old cousin were sentenced on Monday on charges they planted a "fake bomb" in January 2017.

Alwadaei's statement says they have been detained since March and questioned extensively about his work in the United Kingdom.

He says Bahrain's government is targeting his family because of his work in exposing the "government's horrific rights abuses."

Bahrain's Sunni-led monarchy has moved to suppress opposition from its majority Shiite population after widespread protests in 2011.