Kuwait court upholds 10-year jail term for Twitter user

A banner with the logo of Twitter is set on the front of the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand) (AFP/File)

Kuwait City (AFP) - Kuwait's top court on Monday upheld a 10-year jail sentence for a Shiite Twitter user for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and his wife and companions.

Hamad al-Naqi, 24, was also charged with insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and spreading false news that undermined Kuwait's image abroad, the verdict said. The court's ruling is final and can only be commuted by the ruler.

He has been in prison since his arrest in March 2012 for posting tweets deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammed, his companions and Gulf leaders.

Naqi, a member of Kuwait's Shiite minority, denied the accusations, saying his Twitter account was hacked. He was first handed the jail term by the lower court in June 2012.

Human Rights Watch strongly criticised the sentence and urged authorities to immediately release him after the appeals court confirmed the sentence in October last year.

The New York-based rights watchdog said the ruling was another example of violations of the right to free speech in Kuwait.

During the past two years, Kuwaiti courts have given jail sentences to several online activists for various charges, mostly insulting the ruler through social networks.