[JURIST] A Kuwaiti appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced a man to five years in prison for posting comments about the Gulf nation’s ruler on Twitter. Defense lawyer Fahad al-Harbi announced [AP report] Thursday that the court upheld the sentence of his client, Abdulaziz al-Mutairi, for tweets made in 2012 that were deemed insulting to Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah [official website], Kuwait’s emir and hereditary ruler. This ruling follows a similar detainment [JURIST report] earlier this month of former lawmaker Saleh al-Mullah [personal Twitter account] for tweets criticizing the ruler. Insulting the emir remains a crime in Kuwait, but Mutairi will seek a further appeal.
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.