Nasser Abul convicted of insulting ruling families, but released for time served
A Kuwait court convicted a man for insulting Gulf rulers and
putting inflammatory sectarian comments on social media, but released him
immediately because of time already served while awaiting trial, a human rights
activist said on Wednesday.
Nasser Abul, a 26-year-old Shi'ite, was sentenced to three
months in jail on Tuesday for posting comments critical of Sunni Muslim ruling
families in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and for insulting followers of Sunni
In detention since his arrest in June the court ruled the
111 days he had already spent in jail should be regarded as time served.
"Now he's out and back at home," said Kuwaiti rights
activist Ghanem al-Najjar. "
Another man, Lawrence al-Rashidi, was arrested at the same
time as Abul for posting defamatory comments of Kuwait's emir, but there has been
no news of his proceedings.
Democracy activists have used social media such as Facebook
and Twitter to debate, organise and share information across the Arab world
since a revolt first erupted in Tunisia last December.
Bahrain's Sunni rulers crushed a protest movement in March
led mostly by the country's Shi'ite majority, while Saudi Arabia has only seen
very limited dissent.
Najjar said it was often difficult to distinguish between
libel and free speech and called for more open, transparent trials.
"The authorities jailed him for cursing on Twitter. He
wasn't just stating an opinion, he was talking about people and religious
subjects in a very rude way. It's difficult to make up your mind ... on whether
this is free speech," said Najjar.
Kuwait, a majority-Sunni country with a Shi'ite minority,
sent naval forces to support Bahrain when the Bahraini government called in
troops from Sunni-led neighbours to enforce its crackdown on protests. Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also sent forces.
Social sites should not be used as an opportunity to insult anyone.
This kind of action only goes to show immaturity.