A defense lawyer says that a Kuwait court has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for Twitter posts which were deemed insulting to Islam and to the rulers of Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The case appears to reflect a growing conservative influence in Kuwait and other gulf nations.
Judge Hisham Abdullah delivered the written verdict, finding Hamad al-Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters.
The judge found him guilty of insulting the Prophet, the Prophet’s wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and misusing his mobile phone to spread the comments.
“The prison sentence is long, but we have the chance to appeal,” Khaled al-Shatti said.
The sentence was the maximum that Naqi could have received, Shatti said, according to Reuters.
Shatti is quoted Monday in Gulf media reports as saying his client has a chance to appeal the sentence. Under Kuwaiti law, the defense can file an appeal within 20 days of the verdict; jail sentences have been reduced in the past for similar convictions.
Al-Naqi claims his Twitter account was hacked.
Plaintiff Dowaem al-Mowazry argued in court that al-Naqi must be made an example of, writing in a text message that “This verdict is a deterrent to those who insult the Prophet Muhammad, his companions and the mothers of the believers.”
Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy has waged nearly 16 months of crackdowns against a Shiite-led uprising. Bahrain’s rulers are strongly aided by neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Dozens of Sunni Muslim activists and lawmakers protested against al-Naqi shortly after his arrest, and he was attacked in jail by a fellow inmate, according to the Interior Ministry, Reuters reports.