Kuwait City, Kuwait | July 8
Kuwait’s highest court on Sunday ordered an opposition leader and two lawmakers imprisoned for 3 ½ years over the 2011 storming of parliament amid that year’s Arab Spring protests, in a case involving nearly 70 politicians, activists and others.
Over a dozen people received prison time in the ruling by Kuwait’s Court of Cassation, while the others were released on bail or found not guilty.
Tiny, oil-rich Kuwait, which has a history of representational government and toleration for protests, has been caught up in a wider crackdown on dissent across the Gulf Arab states, whose monarchical rulers were alarmed by the pro-democracy protests that swept the region seven years ago.
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruling emir of the U.S.-allied nation, has said Kuwait must “protect our national unity and ward off the risks of sedition.” The defendants were initially acquitted in the yearslong case, but a shock court decision in November resurrected the charges against them. That decision accused the defendants of using violence against police officers, destroying government property and inciting violence, charges they long have denied.
Among those sentenced Sunday to 3½ years was Musallam al-Barrack, an opposition leader who left prison in April 2017 after serving a two-year sentence on separate charges.