In widening crackdown, Kuwait arrests 3 former lawmakers for insulting emir

Kuwait says three former opposition lawmakers have been charged with insulting the country's ruler in the latest crackdown on perceived political dissent in the Gulf nation.

The arrests announced Tuesday by Kuwait's Information Ministry are part of an escalating backlash from authorities as the oil-rich country faces growing political unrest. Kuwait has the Gulf's most free-wheeling political system, but denouncing the Western-backed emir is illegal.

The charges against the former parliament members — Falah al-Sawwagh, Bader al-Dahoum and Khaled al-Tahous — stem from speeches made at rallies opposing changes to Kuwait's voting rules.

On Sunday, rights groups say a Kuwait court sentenced a Twitter user to five years in prison for a post considered offensive to the emir. Similar sentences have been made recently in Kuwait and other Gulf countries.