Kuwait’s criminal court sentenced five men – including three members of the country’s ruling family – to jail on Monday for insulting Kuwait’s ruler and its judiciary on WhatsApp, local media reported.
The men were sentenced to five years in jail, while a sixth defendant was given a one-year jail term and a seventh was sentenced to 10 years in absentia.
Six men were also acquitted in the case.
Those convicted intend to appeal their sentences, one of the defendants told Reuters.
One of the ruling family members who has been convicted is Sheikh Athbi Al-Fahd Al-Sabah, the former chief of the State Security Agency and the brother of former energy minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who also holds posts the Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee.
The men were charged with using instant messaging service WhatsApp to insult Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and accuse judges of accepting bribes.
They were also accused of spreading false news against the country.
This is not the first time that royals in Kuwait have been charged.
In December last year, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah was given a suspended six-month prison sentence and fined KD 1,000 for allegedly “insulting the judiciary”.
He apologised to the emir but denied any wrongdoing and said that the prison sentence was a “personal attack”.