Twitter has played a central role in Arab Spring revolutions
Kuwait City – Arabstoday
Kuwait\'s lower court handed a two-year jail term to an opposition tweeter on Monday for allegedly insulting the Emir in the second sentence of its kind in as many days, a human rights activist said.
\"Ayyad al-Harbi was sentenced to two years in jail,\" Director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mohammad al-Humaidi posted on his Twitter account.
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, Humaidi said.
On Sunday, the same court handed an identical sentence to Rashed al-Enezi, who faced similar charges. Enezi was arrested at the courtroom and immediately imprisoned.
In another decision, the court acquitted opposition activist Osama al-Munawer, a member of the scrapped 2012 parliament, on Monday, 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.
The opposition has been staging regular demonstrations in protest at an amendment to electoral regulations and the subsequent holding of December\'s parliamentary vote on the basis of the amended legislation.
Hundreds of opposition supporters demonstrated on Sunday evening to demand the dissolution of parliament, which they say is illegitimate, and the scrapping of the controversial amendment.
Riot police fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse the small crowd and in the process arrested more than 70 protesters, according to Humaidi. Reports also began to emerge of cases of police brutality, who used truncheons and tear gas, against protestors during the night. Seventeen activists remained in detention on Monday, he said.
Humaidi told international media on Sunday that more than 200 opposition activists, including former lawmakers, face trial on a variety of charges, mainly criticising the Emir who is constitutionally protected from criticism.
Among these are around 25 young tweeters who were arrested, interrogated and then freed on bail on charges of insulting the Emir.
Criticising the country’s leader is illegal in Kuwait and is considered a state security offence. Under the law, people convicted face a jail term of up to five years.