Kuwait’s supreme court on Monday sentenced an opposition activist to 20 months in jail on charges of insulting the Kuwaiti ruler on Twitter. Sager Al-Hashash was handed a two-year prison term by a lower court in March 2013 but released by an appeals court which later reduced the sentence to one year. The new verdict is final and can not be challenged.
Hashash was charged with writing tweets in October 2012 deemed offensive to the Amir at a time of opposition-led protests against the government for amending Kuwait’s electoral law. The courts have handed down prison sentences to several opposition activists and former MPs for remarks deemed insulting to the emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
Criticising the Amir in Kuwait is considered a state security offence, with those found guilty faced with up to five years behind bars. Lawyers defending prominent opposition leader Mussallam Al-Barrak, meanwhile, called on the appeals court judge to acquit him of charges of insulting the emir and undermining his status.
Barrak, a former MP, was accused of making remarks in a speech at an October 2012 opposition rally deemed disrespectful to the emir and questioning his authority. The lower court sentenced him to five years in jail in 2013 but the verdict was scrapped by the appeals court over flawed legal procedures. The court set Feb 22 to issue its verdict.