[JURIST] A Kuwait court on Monday sentenced a man to ten years of imprisonment for posting insulting and defaming comments about the Prophet Muhammad [BBC backgrounder] and the Sunni Muslim [BBC backgrounder] rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Twitter [media website]. Judge Hisham Abdullah found 26-year-old Hamad al-Naqi, a Shia Muslim [BBC backgrounder], guilty on all charges of endangering state security and ordered the maximum sentence for him. al-Naqi was found guilty of having insulted the prophet Muhammad, the prophet’s family and companions, the religion of Islam and the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Al-Naqi had pleaded not guilty [BBC report] at the beginning of his trial, which opened last month, arguing that he did not post the comments on the website and that his Twitter account was hacked. Additionally, al-Naqi’s lawyer argued that even if his client wrote the comments on Twitter, he could not be found guilty of charges of endangering state security. However, Abdullah found him guilty of misusing his cell phone to publicize and spread his comments. Additionally, the judge reasoned that he gave the maximum verdict to deter others.
A similar case arose last year when two men were detained for posting messages on the Internet criticizing Middle East rulers on social media websites Twitter and YouTube [media website]. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [JURIST report] on the government to immediately release them, calling the detention merely an “illegal effort to punish him and intimidate others who might dare be critical about Kuwait’s fellow Gulf monarchs.” Such practices are not only found in Kuwait. In April of last year, an Egyptian military court convicted [JURIST report] blogger Maikel Nabil and sentenced him to three years in prison for criticizing the army and raising questions over reform in the wake of revolution.