[JURIST] Kuwait’s Supreme Court on Sunday upheld a two-year prison sentence for a man accused of insulting the emir on Twitter, his lawyer said. Opposition activist Ayyad al-Harbi is an online journalist in his 20s who posted [Daily Mail report] verses by an Iraqi poet critical of the nation’s ruler. Al-Harbi was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime in May, and could have faced as much as five years. Lawyer Mohammed al-Humaidi said al-Harbi’s final hope now would be a pardon by the emir.
The Kuwaiti government has been criticized for not permitting free speech and restricting the right to assembly in the country. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that riot police in Kuwait disbanded [JURIST report] protests, arresting 16 protesters who may be charged with attacking law enforcement officers and illegal gathering. In January Nabil al-Fadhl, a member of the Kuwait parliament, was charged with insulting [JURIST report] the honor of Kuwaiti society and history after making a comment in support of the legalized sale of alcohol. Later that month a Kuwaiti appeals court upheld [JURIST report] a lower court ruling that sentenced a man to five years in prison for posting comments about the Gulf nation’s ruler on Twitter. A court in Kuwait last October convicted [JURIST report] 13 people of challenging the country’s ruler by reciting a speech from Musallam al-Barrack, a leading opposition figure. In July 2013 Kuwait’s Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a 10-year prison sentence for a man accused of posting Tweets insulting the Prophet Mohammed and the Sunni Muslim [BBC backgrounders] rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.