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Kuwait detains former MP critical of Sisi visit

Dozens of protesters, including former MPs, gathered in solidarity with the former parliamentarian
Former Kuwaiti MP Saleh al-Mulla speaks during a parliament session in Kuwait City on 4 March 2009 (AFP)

Authorities in Kuwait have detained a former liberal opposition lawmaker for allegedly insulting the Gulf state's ruler and criticising a visit by the Egyptian president, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors detained Saleh al-Mulla after questioning him on Tuesday night about comments made on Twitter, lawyer Abdullah al-Ahmad told AFP.

Ahmad said his client was told the comments were deemed "offensive" to Kuwait's emir and "humiliating" for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who concluded a two-day visit to Kuwait on Tuesday.

Mulla was accused of threatening Kuwaiti-Egyptian relations by criticising Sisi, the lawyer said.

In his tweets, Mulla repeatedly urged Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah not to give more financial aid to Sisi. In one tweet, he said any money given to Sisi should be taken back by Kuwaitis.

"Sisi, you are not welcome," Mulla had said on Twitter. "The Kuwaiti people are more worthy of their country's funds."

Kuwait along with other Gulf states backed Sisi following the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. It has offered Cairo aid worth some $4 billion.

Mulla was a member of parliament for several years before he boycotted elections in December 2012 in protest against the government's amendment of the electoral law. 

Other opposition activists had launched an online campaign against Sisi's visit, urging authorities not to give more funds to Egypt.

Ahmad said there was no legal justification for Mulla's detention and demanded his immediate release.

"There is no justification for Mulla's detention," Ahmad told The Anadolu Agency, adding that Mulla has not been questioned thus far.

Kuwaiti courts have handed down prison sentences to several opposition activists and former lawmakers for remarks deemed insulting to the emir.

The latest ruling was issued on Monday when the Supreme Court sentenced activist Sager al-Hashash to 20 months in prison on charges of insulting the emir on Twitter.

Criticising the emir in Kuwait is considered a state security offence, with those found guilty facing up to five years behind bars.

Dozens of protesters including former MPs, gathered Wednesday evening outside the private residence of Mulla in Kuwait City in solidarity with the former parliamentarian.

Sisi wrapped up a two-day visit to Kuwait on Tuesday, during which he discussed bilateral relations with Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other Kuwaiti officials.

Kuwait had been among the first Arab states to support the Egyptian government which followed the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president and Muslim Brotherhood leader, in the summer of 2013 following massive protests against his rule.

Since Morsi's ouster, Kuwait has provided Egypt with $4 billion worth of financial assistance: $2 billion had been deposited at Egypt's central bank, $1 billion worth of petroleum products and an additional $1 billion grant