Middle East

Kuwait convicts 16 of repeating speech critical of emir

A Kuwait court has convicted and sentenced 16 people to two years in prison each for repeating a speech by an opposition leader previously deemed offensive to the nation's emir.

Those convicted on Thursday include political activists. They can remain free on bail of 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars, or $9,800.

The speech the 16 recited originally was given in 2012 by leading opposition figure and former lawmaker Musallam al-Barrack. In it, he called on Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, not to "drag the country into a dark abyss."

Kuwait's criminal court saw the speech as a direct challenge to the emir and his authority, which is a crime in the oil-rich emirate.

Al-Barrack is serving a two-year prison sentence over the speech that ends in February.