Kuwait opposition groups say one of their leaders has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of insulting the emir during a political rally last year.

The sentence against former parliament member Mussallam al-Barrack could rekindle street protests that flared during disputes over parliamentary elections in December. Al-Barrack led a boycott movement to protest changes in voting rules ordered by the emir.

Violent clashes erupted after al-Barrack was detained and authorities temporarily imposed rules that limited public gatherings.

In a speech in October, al-Barrack accused the emir of running the country as an "autocracy." Opposition groups and Kuwait media reported the Monday sentencing.

Last week, Kuwait officials began considering a media law that reports say could bring fines of about $1 million for insulting the ruling family.