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Second Kuwait blogger sentenced to two years

Defendant accused of undermining the Emir’s status

Gulf News

Dubai: A second Kuwaiti was on Monday sentenced to two years in prison for posting remarks deemed offensive to the country’s ruler.

Iyad Al Harbi was found guilty of undermining the status of the Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah on his Twitter account and will spend the next two years in prison, the court ruled.

According to the ruling, Harbi must start serving the sentence immediately, even before the outcomes of his challenges in the appeals and supreme courts are known, said Mohammad Al Humaidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights.

The sentence is the second in as many days against a blogger tried on similar charges.

On Sunday, the court sentenced Rashid Al Enezi to two years for abusing the status of the Emir on his Twitter account.

In another decision, the court on Monday acquitted opposition activist Osama Al Munawer, a member of the scrapped 2012 parliament, on charges of abusing the emir’s authority and undermining his status.

Munawer was briefly arrested and interrogated after delivering a speech at a public rally on October 13. He was later charged with making remarks offensive to the emir.

Enezi and Harbi, both in their 20s, are the first to be sentenced among dozens of tweeters, activists and ex-opposition lawmakers who have been charged with similar offences since the government began a clampdown ahead of elections held on December 1.

Criticising the emir is illegal in Kuwait and is considered a state security charge. Under the law, people who convicted of the offence face a jail term of up to five years.