Kuwaiti citizen Nasser Abdul (pictured in blue in this image from his Twitter profile) was detained last week for comments that he made on Twitter allegedly criticizing the ruling families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
In the first arrest of its kind in the country, Abdul was detained for more than three hours on Thursday and made an appearance at the General Prosecution office on Sunday. According to MENAFN.com, Abdul has been formally charged with damaging the country’s interests and severing political relationships with brotherly countries. Abdul denies these charges, and blames hackers for the offending messages.
While we couldn’t see the exact tweets that Abdul’s account had posted (he claims he deleted them once he noticed that the hackers tweeted them), they apparently contained negative statements about the Bahraini and Saudi Arabian royal families.
A member of the Bahraini royal family Sheikh Abdullah Mohammad bin Ahmad Al-Fatih Al-Khalifa also announced that he would be suing Abdul for the slander tweeted against his family. He specified that while he does respect freedom of speech, “the postings hurt a whole family at a personal level.”
Abdul’s arrest and subsequent charges ignited a fire under many Twitter users. Several prominent writers and activists tweeted their support, not necessarily of Abdul’s apparently strong Shia extremism, but for his freedom to express his opinions of the ruling class without fear of arrest. Global Voices Online has a summary of some of the more prominent tweets sent out which protested Abdul’s arrest.
Kuwaiti graphic designer Mohammed Sharaf created the following image to support Abdul:
Also in protest of Abdul’s arrest, several citizens organized a protest in front of Kuwait’s State Security police building via Twitter.
Abdul’s arrest brings up questions of the freedom of speech online and on Twitter specifically. There is no word yet as to whether Abdul will fight the lawsuit and charges against him, but you can expect a sizable chunk of the Twitterverse will defend him in the coming weeks.