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Writer sentenced to seven years' imprisonment

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 10 April 2012 - ANHRI condemns the sentencing of Kuwaiti writer Mohamed al-Melify to 7 years' imprisonment and a fine of 18 thousand dollars, on charges of spreading false statements via Twitter. He was arrested by the authorities last February.

The Kuwait Criminal Court on Monday found the writer guilty of spreading false news through his personal Twitter page about sectarian divisions in the country and publishing insults against Shiism in addition to charges of libel and defamation of the MP Ahmed Lari. Al-Melify was arrested in February and was detained for 40 days and then released on bail.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time someone has been arrested in Kuwait for expressing his religious views on Twitter. The police arrested a Shiite citizen last month for insulting the Prophet on his Twitter page, an act that angered Sunnis in the country, even leading some members of the Parliament to call for his execution.

"It is not permissible to punish a person for whatever religious views, political affiliation, or other opinions that he/she expresses. The imprisonment of writers and Tweeps tarnishes Kuwait's reputation in the field of freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore, ANHRI calls on the authorities to drop all charges against al-Melify and all prisoners of conscience, and put forward legislation that would ensure the rights to freedom of opinion and expression," ANHRI stated.

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