Ayatollah Qassim, who has been under house arrest for more than 400 days, left Manama for treatment in London on Monday following a deterioration in his health.
Speaking to IQNA, Sheikh Abdullah Saleh, deputy secretary general of Bahrain’s Islamic Action Society, also referred to as Amal Party, said doctors had recommended that Ayatollah Qassim should go abroad for treatment several weeks ago.
The Manama authorities refused to let him leave, however, and his health conditions deteriorated, he said.
Sheikh Abdullah Saleh noted that while Sheikh Qassim finally was allowed to take the trip, there are concerns that the regime may prevent him from returning to Bahrain.
What matters now and is the top priority, though, is the health condition of Sheikh Qassim, the cleric added.
“We hope the operation (in London) will be successful and he will return to Bahrain in good health,” he went on to say.
Sheikh Qassim, in his late 70s, was stripped of his Bahraini nationality in 2016 on charges of “serving foreign interests”.
He was allowed to fly out of the country using a temporary passport -- valid for one year -- issued on the orders of Bahrain's king, his aides said.
Bahrain’s foreign minister tweeted Friday that the country's monarch had ordered the “facilitation of travel” for the cleric to seek treatment abroad.
The Bahraini king also offered to cover the cost of “any treatment required”, the minister added.
That is while those close to Sheikh Qassim, who has played a leading role in protests against Bahrain’s monarchy, said the issue of payment had not yet been decided, and it was up to the Sheikh to accept or reject the king’s offer.
Sheikh Qassim’s health has for months been a point of contention between authorities and the Qassim family, who long refused the government’s offer to transfer him to a local hospital over fears he could be detained and deported should he leave his residence.