Kuwait frees 7 opposition members pardoned by emir

AFP , Wednesday 7 Aug 2013

The six men and the woman were released from the central prison around midnight Tuesday, Kuwait's interior ministry announced in a statement

Kuwait has released seven opposition activists, including a woman, who were in prison for insulting the ruler on Twitter after he pardoned them last week, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

Dozens of other opposition activists and former lawmakers being tried on similar charges were not included in the pardon issued by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The six men and the woman were released from the central prison around midnight Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.

They were serving various jail terms after being convicted of insulting the emir through Twitter, a crime punishable by a maximum of five years in jail under the oil-rich Gulf state's penal code.

The pardoned activists include Sara al-Darees, a teacher, who was in jail after the appeals court upheld her 20-month jail sentence last month. She however spent only about a week in jail.

A second woman, Huda al-Ajmi, who was handed an 11-year jail term, was not covered by the pardon because her sentence is not yet final.

International rights groups have criticised Kuwait's practice of jailing opposition members for "insulting" the emir and have called on the authorities to amend the law that prohibits criticism of the ruler.

The emir's pardon came a few days after a parliamentary election that was boycotted by the main opposition groups in protest against an amendment to the electoral law.

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