DOHA // A defence lawyer in Qatar says an appeals court has upheld the 15-year prison sentence given to a poet for his verses considered offensive to the nation’s former ruler.
The sentence is among the harshest penalties imposed by Gulf states in ongoing crackdowns against perceived dissent on social media and other internet outlets.
In February, a court lowered the sentence against poet Muhammad Al Ajami from life behind bars to 15 years. The charges stem from a poem posted online in 2010 that discussed the traits needed for a good leader – seen as a challenge to Qatar’s then-emir and the ruling family.
Al Ajami’s lawyer, Najeeb al-Nauimi, said the court decision cannot be appealed further and only a pardon from the emir can free his client.
* Associated Press