Kuwait frees those jailed for Twitter insults

Among dozens pardoned for attacking Emir is female teacher sentenced to 11 years

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Kuwait frees those jailed for Twitter insults Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. (Getty Images)
By  Courtney Trenwith Published  July 31, 2013

The Emir of Kuwait has pardoned all those who have been jailed for insulting him, including social media users and youths sentenced to as much as 11 years in jail for their comments.

The Gulf state is believed to have issued prison sentences to dozens of people for insulting Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, following a clampdown on dissent that began in October.

They include the country's first females to be convicted of such a crime.

In June, 37-year old teacher Huda al-Ajmi was sentenced to a total 11 years in jail for insulting the ruler, inciting regime change and insulting a religious sect via Twitter.

She is believed to be the first woman convicted for criticising the ruler, who is described as "immune and inviolable" in the constitution.

She was on bail awaiting an appeal of her sentence. Women are rarely jailed for political crimes in Kuwait.

At least three youths and several former opposition members and activists also are among the pardoned. The political trials have drawn criticism from human rights groups and anger at home. Earlier this month the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Joe Stork said Kuwait was unfairly punishing people who expressed their political opinions.

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