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Kuwait court upholds 10-year prison sentence for Twitter commentator

An appeals court in Kuwait on Monday affirmed a 10-year prison sentence against Hamad al-Naqi, a commentator on Twitter [media website] for posts deemed offensive to Islam, according to rights activist Nawaf al-Handel. Al-Naqi was originally sentenced [JURIST report] to 10 years in prison in June 2012 for posting insulting and defaming comments about the Prophet Muhammad [BBC backgrounder] and the Sunni Muslim [BBC backgrounder] rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Al-Naqi claimed [AP report] that he did not post the comments on the website and that his Twitter account was hacked. It is unclear if al-Naqi will appeal the ruling.

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 June a criminal court in Kuwait sentenced a woman to 11 years in prison [JURIST report] for remarks she made on Twitter. 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.

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