[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Thursday urged Kuwait to immediately release [press release] two men being detained for posting messages on the Internet criticizing Middle East rulers. HRW reported that in June authorities detained and investigated Nasser Abul [Twitter feed, in Arabic] for threatening state security using Twitter and Lawrence al-Rashidi for posting a YouTube video criticizing Kuwait leader Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah [BBC profile]. HRW said that Kuwait should investigate the alleged mistreatment of Abul in detention, who it says is being held for Tweets criticizing the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His Tweets support the protestors demonstrations against Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa [official profile]. Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said, “Abul has been held for more than a month on the basis of a few tweets that clearly constitute protected speech. His detention appears to be an illegal effort to punish him and intimidate others who might dare be critical about Kuwait’s fellow Gulf monarchs.” HRW also reports that Abul is being subjected to sleep deprivation and being held in solitary confinement. Al-rashidi is allegedly being held for posting a YouTube video calling for Al-Sabah to step down.
The two men are not the first to be persecuted for criticizing the demonstrations in the Middle East. In April, HRW reported that an Egyptian military court convicted blogger [JURIST report] Maikel Nabil and sentenced him to three years in prison for criticizing the army and raising questions over reform in the wake of revolution. The 25-year-old blogger and activist was arrested at his home on March 28 and charged with “insulting the military establishment” and “spreading false information” for criticizing the army’s handling of the revolution that began on January 25. He posted an article on his blog on March 7 saying the army had beat, tortured and killed protesters, including some who were cooperating with security forces. He was then sentenced without a formal hearing and without his lawyers present.