A Kuwait court convicted a man for insulting Gulf rulers and putting inflammatory sectarian comments on social media, but released him immediately because of time already served while awaiting trial, a human rights activist said on Wednesday.
Nasser Abul, a 26-year-old Shia, was sentenced to three months in jail on Tuesday for posting comments critical of Sunni Muslim ruling families in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and for insulting followers of Sunni Islam.
In detention since his arrest in June the court ruled the 111 days he had already spent in jail should be regarded as time served.
"Now he's out and back at home," said Kuwaiti rights activist Ghanem Al-Najjar. "
Another man, Lawrence Al-Rashidi, was arrested at the same time as Abul for posting defamatory comments of Kuwait's emir, but there has been no news of his proceedings.
Democracy activists have used social media such as Facebook and Twitter to debate, organise and share information across the Arab world since a revolt first erupted in Tunisia last December.
Bahrain's Sunni rulers crushed a protest movement in March led mostly by the country's Shia majority, while Saudi Arabia has only seen very limited dissent.
Najjar said it was often difficult to distinguish between libel and free speech and called for more open, transparent trials.
"The authorities jailed him for cursing on Twitter. He wasn't just stating an opinion; he was talking about people and religious subjects in a very rude way. It's difficult to make up your mind ... on whether this is free speech," said Najjar.
Kuwait, a majority-Sunni country with a Shia minority, sent naval forces to support Bahrain when the Bahraini government called in troops from Sunni-led neighbours to enforce its crackdown on protests. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also sent forces.