Qatar, Arab Spring sponsor, jails poet for life [View all]
A court in Qatar, which has supported Arab uprisings abroad, jailed a local poet for life on Thursday for criticizing the emir and inciting revolt - a sentence that drew outrage and cries of hypocrisy from human rights groups.
In his verses, Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami praised the Arab Spring revolts that toppled four dictators, often with the help of money and other support from the tiny, energy-rich Gulf state. But he also criticized Qatar's own absolute monarch and spoke, for example, of "sheikhs playing on their Playstations".
"This is a tremendous miscarriage of justice," said defence lawyer Nagib al-Naimi, who conveyed the verdict to Reuters after a trial held behind closed doors in the capital Doha.
At the prison where he has been held for a year, Ajami, 36, later told Reuters he believed the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to be "a good man" who must be unaware of his plight. Lawyer Naimi said the defence would appeal. A royal pardon may also be a possibility.