DOHA, Qatar: A defense lawyer says a Qatari poet has been sentenced to life in prison for an Arab Spring-inspired verse that officials claim insulted Qatar’s emir and encouraged the ruler’s overthrow.
The verdict on Thursday is certain to bring a fresh outpouring of denunciations by rights groups, which have repeatedly called for the release of poet Muhammad ibn Al-Dheeb Al-Ajami. His lawyer, Najib Al-Nuaimi, said he will appeal the sentence.
Al-Ajami was jailed in November 2011, months after an Internet video was posted of him reciting “Tunisian Jasmine,” a poem lauding the country’s popular uprising that touched off the Arab Spring revolts across the Middle East.
Qatari officials charged Al-Ajami with “insulting” the Gulf nation’s ruler and “inciting to overthrow the ruling system.”