Prison for Twitter Insult: Man to Serve 2 Years for Insulting Authorities

A Kuwaiti man, who was sentenced to two years in prison after insulting a state official on Twitter, has sparked debate across the world about Internet censorship.

Rashid Saleh al-Anzi has been sentenced in court to a two-year prison service after making critical remarks about Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. The 26-year-old, who has 5,700 followers on Twitter, was accused of stabbing the "the rights and powers" of the Kuwaiti leader.

A lawyer following the case reported the information to Reuters, but did not wish to be named. The sentence is one of many attempts to come down on public criticism of governments through social media outlets. Kuwait has over 890,780 Facebook users, according to figures provided by SocialBakers, ranking 88th in a list of countries who use the social media outlet.

In June 2012, a second man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after insulting the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia. He was convicted of threatening state security, according to the Reuters report.

Other Arab countries have also come up with similar penalties for speaking out against the state. In November, a poet from Qatar was sentenced to life in prison for "an Arab Spring-inspired verse that officials claim insulted Qatar's emir and encouraged the overthrow of the nation's ruling system," according to the Vancouver Sun.

However, Internet regulations have become a growing issue across the world as some countries, including the United States and Europe, attempt to balance freedom of expression and human rights.

A report released by a UN Special Rapporteur suggests that censorship should only be "justified if the government can demonstrate that the expression is intended to incite imminent violence, and that there is a direct and immediate connection between this expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence," according to the Council for Europe.