Kuwait court jails Saudi for 5 years over emir insult

Kuwait's lower court on Wednesday sentenced a Saudi man to five years in jail for insulting the emir on Twitter, a human rights activist said.

The court passed the sentence on Abdulaziz al-Mutairi in absentia, as his whereabouts are currently unknown, the director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, Mohammad al-Humaidi, told AFP.

The court also ruled that Mutairi should be deported after completing his jail term, Humaidi added.

Under Kuwaiti law, Mutairi can challenge the ruling immediately after he presents himself and the lower court is obliged to review his case.

Even if the sentence is upheld, he can still challenge the ruling in the appeal and supreme courts.

Mutairi is the latest in a series of tweeters and former-opposition MPs to receive jail terms or stand trial for insulting the emir.

Over the past few months, Kuwaiti courts have given prison sentences to several opposition activists and former MPs for remarks deemed insulting to the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Last month, Kuwait's lower court sentenced opposition leader and former MP Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison for comments he made at a public rally in October deemed offensive to the emir.

The ruling sparked street protests by opposition activists, and international human rights groups widely condemned the move.

Criticising the emir in Kuwait is considered a state security offence and carries a maximum jail sentence of five years.

Kuwait has seen many opposition-led demonstrations against changes to the electoral law, which opposition groups say allowed the government to influence election results and elect a rubber-stamp assembly.