[JURIST] Authorities in Kuwait on Wednesday ordered the 10-day detainment of former lawmaker Saleh al-Mullah [personal Twitter account] for tweets criticizing the Gulf country’s leader Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah [official website] and his support for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Al-Mullah was detained [AP report] Tuesday and held overnight for questioning for tweets sent Monday while el-Sissi was in Kuwait for an official visit. In his tweets, al-Mullah criticized the Kuwaiti government’s significant financial support of the el-Sissi government, and also the government’s failure to counter the recent decrease in oil prices. According to his lawyer, al-Mullah denies the accusations and will request bail.
The use of the social networking site Twitter [corporate website] to criticize government organizations and leaders in the Middle East has led to numerous arrests and prosecutions. In October a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced [JURIST report] three lawyers to between five and eight years in prison for criticizing the justice system on Twitter by accusing authorities of carrying out arbitrary detentions. Also in October Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab [personal twitter account] was charged [JURIST report] with insulting the ministries of defense and interior over his tweets that alleged Bahrain’s security institutions were the first incubators for extremist ideology. In July Kuwait’s Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a 10-year jail sentence for a man accused of posting tweets that insulted the Prophet Mohammed and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.