A criminal court in Kuwait issued two-year suspended sentences to a group of 21 people, among them eight former lawmakers, for "offending" the Gulf Arab country's ruler.

The opposition activists and former lawmakers also were ordered by the court Tuesday to pay roughly $6,600 each to settle their case.

Defense lawyer Mohammed al-Humaid said the defendants, who will not have to serve prison sentences, were charged with offending Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah by reciting a speech originally given by opposition figure Musallam al-Barrack.

Al-Barrack is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for his 2012 speech, in which he called on the ruler not to drag the country into a "dark abyss" and warned that Kuwait risked becoming an autocratic state.