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Kuwait court upholds jail, deportation of activist

  • Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah attends the opening ceremony of the 6th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, June 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

KUWAIT CITY, June 05, 2014 (AFP) - Kuwait's appeals court Thursday confirmed a five-year jail term for an online rights activist convicted of criticizing the emirate's ruler on Twitter.

The court also confirmed a deportation order against Abdullah Fairouz Abdullah Abd al-Kareem, 30, despite the fact that he is entitled to Kuwaiti nationality.

Kareem was sentenced on January 9 for posting comments deemed offensive to the emir in the Gulf country, where criticising the ruler is a crime.

He was also ordered to be deported after serving his sentence, although his father is Kuwaiti.

The tribunal acknowledged that Kareem, whose mother is Egyptian, had won a court ruling over his right to citizenship. However, it said he had not yet obtained his ID card and was therefore being treated as a foreigner.

Under Kuwaiti law, foreign residents are deported if they are jailed for any serious crime.

New York-based Human Right Watch condemned the January ruling as "shocking" and called on Kuwaiti authorities to drop the charges.

Kareem, who is now serving his sentence, may still appeal to the supreme court, whose rulings are final.

According to HRW, Kuwaiti authorities have ramped up efforts to limit free expression since 2012, with at least 18 politicians, online activists and journalists jailed for offending the emir. Some of those sentences have been commuted or quashed.

Dozens more are said to be on trial.

 
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