KUWAIT CITY, Sept 20, (AFP): A Kuwaiti court sentenced a ruling family member to three years in prison on Tuesday on charges of insulting Kuwait’s ruler and other royals. Any criticism of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah can result in charges of insulting him. Dozens of opposition activists have been jailed for the offence in recent years.
The charges against Sheikh Abdullah Salem Al-Sabah, grandson of the Amir’s late half-brother Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, stemmed from video messages he posted on Snapchat early last year in which he strongly criticised the functioning of the government. Al-Sabah family members hold all the main Cabinet posts and Sheikh Abdullah singled out several of them for criticism.
The court ordered that he pay $16,500 in damages to one of them. He can appeal his conviction. It is not Sheikh Abdullah’s first run-in with the Kuwaiti authorities.
In 2012, he was questioned for posting comments on Twitter deemed sympathetic to the opposition and critical of the Amir. In June last year, he was detained for 10 days pending interrogation for criticising HH the Amir.
The following month, a court acquitted him in a similar case. Among the dozens of dissidents jailed for criticising the Amir in recent years is prominent opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al-Barrak, who is serving a two-year term for comments he made at a public rally.