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Kuwaiti Court: Opinions Threaten National Security

A 26-year old Kuwaiti man will spend 10 years in prison for 'endangering state security' by insulting the Prophet Mohammad, others.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 6/4/2012, 7:48 PM

Kuwaiti Lawmakers
Kuwaiti Lawmakers
Reuters

A Kuwaiti man on Monday was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of "endangering state security" by insulting the Prophet Mohammad, and the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Hamad al-Naqi, 26, pleaded innocent at the start of his trial last month, saying he did not post the Twitter messages he was being prosecuted for. He asserted his account had been hacked.

The written verdict by Judge Hisham Abdullah found Naqi guilty of all charges, the defendant’s attorney Khaled al-Shatti told reporters. The sentence was the maximum Naqi could have received.

Abdullah found Naqi guilty of insulting the Prophet, the Prophet's wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and misusing his mobile phone to spread the comments.

Under Kuwaiti law, the defense can file an appeal within 20 days of the verdict.

The prosecutor arguing the case against Naqi, as well as some Kuwaiti politicians, had called for Naqi to be put to death.

Shatti had argued that even if his client had written the remarks, he would be guilty of a "crime of opinion," not of threatening national security. He told the court last week that Naqi was being used as a political tool to cow dissent.

The prosecutor, Dowaem al-Mowazry, has argued that Naqi must be made an example of, which was why the death penalty was appropriate.

Kuwait's parliament, where opposition Islamists have grown in influence, endorsed a legal amendment last month that would make insulting God and the Prophet Mohammad by Muslims punishable by death instead of the current maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

Any change in the law has to be approved by Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who can also pardon people convicted of crimes.

The Emir, who last month rejected an amendment that would have made Islamic Sharia Law the sole source of law in Kuwait, has thus far also rejected the push to bring in the death penalty, according to Kuwaiti media.