Kuwaiti tweep sentenced to two years in prison after insulting emir in 140 characters

Published January 7th, 2013 - 09:07 GMT
Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (Photo: Zimbio)
Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (Photo: Zimbio)

A Kuwaiti court on Sunday sentenced an opposition youth to two years in jail for writing tweets deemed offensive to the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state, a rights activist said.

Rashed al-Enezi, who was in the courtroom to hear the sentence, was arrested by police and taken to jail, the head of the independent Kuwait Society for Human Rights, Mohammad al-Humaidi, told AFP. 

Enezi is the first to be sentenced among dozens of tweeters, activists and former opposition lawmakers who face similar charges since the government began a clampdown on the opposition in the lead-up to elections held on Dec. 1 last year.

Humaidi said that more than 200 opposition activists, including former lawmakers, face trial on a variety of charges, mainly criticizing the emir who is protected against criticism in the constitution.

Among those are around 25 young tweeters who were arrested, interrogated and then freed on bail on charges of insulting the emir.

“The charges were not based on solid accusations but on wrong interpretation of the tweets by authorities. Most of the charges are fabricated,” said Humaidi.

The same court is slated to issue verdicts on Monday on another youth tweeter and a member of the scrapped parliament on similar charges.

A similar incident happened last June in Kuwait when a court sentenced a 26-year-old Kuwaiti to 10 years in prison after ruling that he had endangered state security by insulting the Prophet Mohammed, his wife Ayesha and his companions on social media, his lawyer Khaled al-Shatti said.

The accused, Hamad al-Naqi, was also charged with insulting authorities of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and for spreading false news that undermined Kuwait’s image abroad.

The charges were based on a number of tweets on his Twitter account, but Naqi told the interrogators that his account had been hacked, the lawyer said.

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