A court in Kuwait has sentenced Ayyad al-Harbi to 24 months of prison for his Twitter insult of the ruler of the country, said his lawyer. The man was sentenced Monday and was the second person jailed for the same offense in the past two days.
Kuwait has started to clamp down over the last few months on political activists. The activists have been using the popular social media websites to criticize both the ruling family and the government.
A series of different protests have taken place in the country, including a Sunday night protest. The protests started after Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah the ruling emir used his emergency powers to change the country’s voting system last October.
Al-Habri has over 13,000 followers on his Twitter page. He used the Twitter page to criticize both the Shiekh and the government of Kuwait, said law enforcement authorities. On Sunday he tweeted that tomorrow will be his verdict in the trial for slander charges against emir and for spreading false news.
The lawyer for Harbi said his client would appeal the conviction. Many are worried that the country’s constitution is being undermined after so many years of being a country that was democracy loving.
In the second case, Rashid Saleh al-Anzi was sentenced to two years over his tweet that the government said stabbed the emir’s powers and rights. Anzi is also expected to appeal the recent ruling.
Washington officials said they were aware of the rulings and had spoken to the government of Kuwait about them, while urging the country to respect freedom of speech.