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Prison sentence overturned for Kuwait opposition in case over insult of nation's ruler

An opposition activist in Kuwait says an appeals court has overturned a five-year prison sentence against a former parliament member for insulting the Gulf nation's ruler.

Monday's decision does not clear Musallam al-Barrack, who still faces the charges and has a new sentencing hearing next month. But it helps ease an escalating political confrontation between al-Barrack's supporters and the Western-backed rulers in Kuwait.

Al-Barrack's conviction last month touched off protests and clashes.

One of his top aides, Saad al-Ajmi, said another sentencing hearing is set for June 9.

Al-Barrack was charged for a speech last year in which he derided Kuwait's ruler for making changes to the country's voting law.

Kuwaiti officials have sharply increased a crackdown on dissent, including arrests for Twitter posts deemed offensive to the emir.