Kuwait opposition leader gets bail in emir insult case


Kuwaiti opposition leader and former MP Mussallam al-Barrak (C) attends a demonstration in Kuwait City on April 17, 2013, against a court verdict to jail him for five years for insulting the Emir of Kuwait. Barrak, who says he is prepared to go to jail at any time, had refused to turn himself in three times because interior ministry officials failed to produce an original arrest warrant. He has now been granted bail.



Prominent Kuwaiti opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak has been granted bail pending his appeal of a five-year jail sentence he received for insulting the emir.

Barrak was first detained in October on suspicion of "undermining the status of the emir." He had warned Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah in a speech that he would not be allowed to "take Kuwait into the abyss of autocracy."

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Kuwait has recently cracked down on criticism of the royal family by jailing offenders.

The former MP's sentence was not overturned on Monday, but Barrak was released on bail of $17,600 and his attorneys were given the chance to argue his case May 13.

The hearing was held under tight security as dozens of Barrak's supporters sang and danced outside the main gate of the court complex when the decision was made.

"Today the popular movement had a victory, today the people had a victory and tomorrow the constitution will have a victory," Barrak told a crowd awaiting him outside the court. 

"Today I see that the popular movement will achieve its goals," he continued, after supporters hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him through the court gates.

Barrak had denied the charges against him, saying that "if time goes back," he would not change what he said.

Kuwait has, so far, avoided an Arab Spring-style uprising, although the country had unrest last year when the emir changed electoral law before a parliamentary election. Opposition politicians said the move was meant deny them a parliamentary majority, and boycotted the December 1 election.