A criminal court in Kuwait on Monday sentenced a woman to 11 years in prison for remarks she made on Twitter [website]. Huda Al-Ajmi was found guilty of three violations, including insulting the nation's ruler, Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah [official website], calling to overthrow the government and misusing her mobile phone. The 11-year prison term is the harshest sentence yet given to an online activist in Kuwait and will become final if it is not overturned when contested in the court of appeals and cassation court. Huda Al-Ajmi, who denies the charges, is not a well-known activist and is not known to have participated in opposition protests.
Recent political unrest in the region has caused the Kuwaiti government to clamp down [Kuwait Times report] on online activists, with dozens of people serving sentences or awaiting trial on charges of insulting the Emir. In April Kuwati opposition leader Mussallam Al Barrak was sentenced to five years after being arrested [JURIST reports] last October for criticizing the Emir in a public speech. Al Barrak was released on bail [JURIST report] soon after his sentencing. Al Barrak's speech was made during a boycott [JURIST report] of a controversial election law passed [JURIST report] last September that some believe the incumbent party can use to redistrict the country to its own advantage.