“Saleh Al-Mulla’s tweets are nothing more than political commentary,” HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director Nadim Houry was quoted as saying by the organization on its website Monday. He added that if Al-Mulla is prosecuted it would be a “textbook violation” of free speech.
The charges against the former lawmaker were brought after Al-Mulla noted in one of his posts that it was unacceptable for the country to allocate money to Egypt after Kuwait pledged at least $4 billion in financial aid for the country. In another Twitter remark, Al-Mulla said oil prices of below $50 per barrel was a “mortification,” expressing his concern over the influence falling prices would have on public spending.
Al-Mulla was questioned by authorities on January 6, and was later charged with insulting the emir of Kuwait and the Egyptian president, following tweets targeting Kuwait’s governmental policies. Al-Mulla was later released on bail, with a hearing set for February 15.
This is not the first time charges have been brought against individuals in Kuwait for making remarks on Twitter.
In 2012, Kuwaiti Hamad Naqi was sentenced to 10 years in prison over a range of messages seen as insulting to Islam and to the emir, though Naqi claimed his account had been hacked.
In November 2013, a Kuwaiti court sentenced another man to a five years in prison over remarks made regarding Sunni and Shia theology.