Kuwaiti teacher, Huda al-Ajmi, who called for the overthrow of Kuawait’s leader on Twitter, was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Monday. Ajmi's punishment is the harshest for online opposition in Kuwait thus far.
“This is the highest sentence of its kind in these kinds of cases,” one source said.
The exact tweet has yet to be released.
Ajmi was convicted of insulting Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Insulting the emir is forbidden in the Kuwait constitution, where the emir is described as an “immune and inviolable” figure.
According to Human Rights Watch, 25 people have been charged with offending the emir since last October, and at least six have been sentenced to prison. Ajmi is the first woman to incite offense.
Despite her sentence, Ajmi has yet to be taken into custody and has been given the option to appeal the verdict. In Kuwait, it is unusual for women to receive jail time for political crimes. Additionally, Kuwait prides itself as a state more liberal than its neighbors, especially where freedom of expression is concerned, and might be more lenient in Ajmi’s case.
Last month, former Parliament member, Mussallam al-Barak, was sentenced to five years in prison for calling the emir an autocrat. However, he managed to overturn his appeal.
The United States has called for greater freedom of expression in Kuwait.