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Kuwaiti Twitter User Jailed for Two Years for Insulting Emir

Categories: Kuwait, Middle East & North Africa, Advocacy, Free Expression, Human Rights, Legal Threats

Seven months after the sentencing a Twitter user to five years in jail for defaming the Emir of Kuwait, another Twitter user Ayyad Al-Harbi was sentenced this Monday to two years in jail for the same charge. Al-Harbi wrote several tweets critical of the Emir and the oppression practiced against protesters. According to the court order (published by Sabr online [1]), the tweets Ayyad was prosecuted for contain the following lines:

- Damn any ruler who jails his people. Damn any ruler that has more opposition than supporters.
– Your highness, the best unity between Kuwaitis happened in Erada square and you targeted it.
– What is left? no revolution, no development, no freedom, no dignity, no parliament, no voting, no protests, no objection, for God's sake, what are you doing to us?
– So I should either insult and accuse people of things with no proof and say it is freedom or I should say my account is hacked and get released?
– If you are not Kuwaiti, then you are from the Gulf. You will face the oppression and tyranny and arrests with a bit of oil.
– The tyrant and oppressor should not be apologized to, he should fall down and be on trial and jailed and killed.
– Curse the state that does not stop its dogs from eating the dignity of its people just because they are opposing.

Al-Harbi was also charged for retweeting a poem by Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar critical of dictators. The tweep also wrote a tweet when the Emir left to Jordan saying:

Since he left to Amman for fishing, the children sang for rain after the adults were singing “beating the people has become a norm.”

Right after his sentence was announced, Al-Harbi tweeted his last tweet:

أحبّــــّــّــك .. يا وطن !

@ayyadQ8Q8 [2]: I love you, my country!

Al-Harbi posted on the 6th of January that he is facing three charges:

غداً صباحاً النطق بمحاكمتي على تهم أمن الدولة ( الطعن بالذات الأميرية / نشر أخبار كاذبة بالخارج / إساءة إستخدام هاتف ) لا تحرمونا من دعائكم

@ayyadQ8Q8 [3]: Tomorrow morning, the court verdict on my case will be made regarding charges made by the state security: defaming the Emir, spreading false news abroad, and misusing a cellphone. Your prayers matter.

Twitter users from Kuwait and other countries wrote critically of having such a sentence that violates one's right to free speech. Ayyad's friend Hussain Al-Shammari posted Ayyad's picture with a comment:


قبل يومين أخرج لي عياد الحربي السلاح الخاص الذي حُكم عليه بالسجن بسببه ، كان عبارة عن 140 حرف وأحلام ممتدة للسماء !
“@Havana_H : Two days ago, Ayyad Al-Harbi showed me his special weapon which got him two years in jail.. it was 140 letters and dreams that reach the sky.”

Sabr online newspaper posted a picture of Ayyad's Kuwaiti passport in reaction to those accusing him of being Saudi citizen:

Egyptian activist Gamal Eid commented in solidarity:

صديقنا وزميلنا عياد الحربي من الكويت ، حتى أمس كان يغرد معنا ، والان اضيف لقائمة سجناء الرأي رقم جديد !!

@gamaleid [6]: Our friend and colleague Ayyad al-Harbi from Kuwait was with us tweeting until yesterday and has become now a new number in the list of prisoners of conscience.

Monther alhabeeb, from Kuwait, who was arrested before in a protest, wrote a tweet after Ayyad's sentence and about the other detainees in Kuwait Rashed Al-Enizi and Salam Al-Rujaib, who were arrested in the latest opposition rally, and Bedoon [stateless] activist Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli:

كل دقيقة لكم في الزنازين تستنشقون بها حريتكم، هي تمر علينا كالساعات نتجرع بها الإنكسار. الحربي العنزي الرجيب الفضلي

@Montheralhabeeb [7]: In every minute passing while you're in jail, you breathe your freedom. Those minutes pass like hours for us as we taste grief.