Twitter sidesteps comment on jail terms for Gulf bloggers

Admonishing governments ‘not our role’, says senior executive

Tags: KuwaitSaudi ArabiaSocial MediaTwitter Incorporation
  • E-Mail
Twitter sidesteps comment on jail terms for Gulf bloggers Twitter prefers not to comment on ‘different countries laws and rules’. (Getty Images)
By  Courtney Trenwith Published  March 23, 2015

A senior Twitter executive has refused to comment on the cases of local residents who have been jailed or arrested for opinions expressed on the social media site.

"It would call upon Twitter stepping beyond its authority and its role to tell governments what they should and should not do," Shailesh Rao, Twitter's vice president for Asia Pacific, Latin America and Emerging Markets, told Arabian Business.

"We live in a very diverse world in which every society and every government that represents that society sets its own rules of how a society should operate and it's our job to provide a platform for users to express themselves within the context of those social and legal norms.

"What we try to do is engage with governments around the world and other stakeholders to make sure they're fully utilising the platform for constructive and positive purposes."

Dozens of people, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have been arrested or sentenced to jail for tweets deemed offensive to the respective royal leaders or harmful to the security of the state.

In January, former Kuwaiti MP Saleh Al Mulla was arrested for using Twitter to urge the government to stop "donating" billions of dollars to Egypt.

"Your highness, we won't accept billions more handed out to other countries. We have donated enough. This is the money of the people of Kuwait," Al Mulla, who is on bail, wrote in Arabic in a tweet on 5 January.

At least five online activists also are on bail in Kuwait for posting comments deemed offensive to Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah following his death in January, according to news wire service AFP.

Opposition activist Sara Al Darees was sentenced to 20 months in jail in 2013 for offending the Emir in a comment posted on Twitter.

Continues on next page>>

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code