[JURIST] Kuwait's Supreme Court on Sunday upheld the two-year jail sentence of an opposition online activist for writing tweets found to be offensive to the country's Emir. After the ruling, activist Hejab Al Hajeri said on his Twitter [official website] account that his "determination is bigger than their jail." Al Hajeri, a law student in his early 20s, was sentenced by the Emirate's lower court last April after it found that comments he made on his twitter account were critical of the country's Emir, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah [official website]. The appeals court upheld the sentence six months later. Al Hajeri has been out on bail, but now must serve the jail term [AFP report] since the supreme court's verdicts are final. Criticizing the Emir is illegal under Kuwaiti law and carries a jail term of up to five years.
Recent political unrest in the region has caused the Kuwait [BBC backgrounder] governments to clamp down on online activists. Last November, Musaab Shamsah was sentenced to five years in prison [JURIST report] for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a Twitter post. Last October an appeals court in Kuwait affirmed a 10-year prison sentence [JURIST report] against Twitter commentator Hamad al-Naqi for posts deemed offensive to Islam. In June a criminal court in Kuwait sentenced a woman to 11 years in prison [JURIST report] for remarks she made on Twitter. In April Kuwati opposition leader Mussallam Al Barrak was sentenced to five years after being arrested [JURIST reports] last October for criticizing the Emir in a public speech. Al Barrak was released on bail [JURIST report] soon after his sentencing. In July 2012 prominent human rights lawyer and al-Islah member Mohammed al-Roken, along with his son and son-in-law, were all detained [JURIST report] in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) [BBC backgrounder] just a few days after the arrest of another prominent human rights lawyer, Mohammed Mansoori. In April of the same year, rights groups called on the UAE to stop the recent crackdown [JURIST report] on political activists by ending arrests and releasing those already in custody, expressing concern that the UAE is threatening to revoke prisoners' citizenship as a way of punishing them for expressing public dissent.