Smashing the Twitter nut with a Kuwaiti sledgehammer
Like a lot of people, I’ve occasionally been guilty of tweeting in haste and repenting at leisure. When I say repent, I mean: feel slightly embarrassed that I’ve sent a tweet marred by a spelling mistake or containing a faulty link. Titchy, minor stuff. We’ve all done it. Email to the wrong person, over-hasty tweet, Facebook update which looks rubbish seen on the screen a few minutes later. But ending up behind bars for a tweet is a whole different matter. It’s what’s happened to Nasser Abul in Kuwait. Tweeting as @NasserAbuL, 26-year-old online activist Nasser was arrested on 7 June by Kuwait’s State Security Police for supposedly insulting the Bahraini and Saudi Arabian ruling families in his comments supportive of protestors in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East. As of 7 June, Nasser had been a very active user of Twitter, with 6,848 tweets under his belt and 3,300 followers. On this date, 7 June, he fired off 15 tweets and had numerous other voices in his timeline. Then … nothing. Silence. It’s strangely ominous to see how his Twitter output is stopped dead in its tracks. Even more worryingly, it seems he may have been tortured in police detention. He’s subsequently been brought before the General Prosecution office on state security charges including “damaging the country’s interests” and “severing a political relationship with brotherly countries”. Nuts and sledgehammers come to mind … As Mona Kareem suggests, this drastic and apparently unprecedented Kuwaiti reaction may have something to do with an attempt to silence a strident Shia voice in a majority Sunni country. Whatever the reason, it’s a sinister development and Amnesty has declared Nasser a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately (support the campaign here). I expect I’ll tweet this post later and maybe I’ll foul it up. Minor embarrassment may ensue. I may even tweet some things that people disagree with and even greatly dislike (have you read my stuff on music?). But I don’t expect to be arrested for tweeting about politics or democracy protests. Do you?
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