Kuwait City: Kuwait riot police on Wednesday raided the house of opposition leader and former MP Musallam Al Barrak in a fourth attempt to arrest him to serve a five-year prison term, an opposition spokesman said.

However they left after not finding him at his home southwest of Kuwait City, said Sa’ad Al Ajmi, head of the media office of the Popular Action Movement in which Barrak is a prominent figure.

A court on Monday ordered Barrak, an outspoken critic of the ruling family-controlled government, jailed for five years after he was convicted on charges of insulting the emir in a speech at a public rally in October.

Police have tried to arrest Al Barrak on three other occasions in the past two days but he has insisted on seeing the original arrest order, saying that once it is produced he will give himself up.

“A group of the elite special forces armed with automatic assault rifles raided the house looking for Al Barrak,” said Al Ajmi, who condemned the police behaviour and said the government had committed a “moral blunder”.

Unidentified activists meanwhile hacked the information ministry website during the night and posted the speech of Al Barrak for which he was punished.

The information ministry Wednesday played down the cyber-attack, saying that only “an old page was actually hacked.”

Kuwaiti courts have already issued prison terms against at least 10 former opposition MPs and tweeters for insulting the emir.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on Kuwait to drop charges against critics, while former opposition MP Mohammad Al Dallal said Kuwait is increasingly becoming a police state.

The state has been rocked by a bitter political crisis over the past several months after the ruler amended the electoral law in a move the opposition claims was unconstitutional.