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Twitter users in Bahrain jailed for allegedly insulting tweets

As the Middle Eastern country is in the midst of a popular uprising, six people are sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly posting offensive tweets about King Hamad.

An image displayed on the Reporters Without Borders Web site.
Screenshot by CNET

The Bahraini government started the process of revising its penal code last month to allow officials to jail anyone who insults King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, according to Amnesty International.

It appears that the government is now taking action.

Six people were sentenced to one year in prison on Wednesday for allegedly insulting the King on Twitter, according to Al Jazeera.

The criminal court ruled that these people were "misusing the right of free expression" and their tweets were "undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain's society towards the king on Twitter."

Bahrain, which is in the middle of a popular uprising against the monarchy, is known for coming down hard on Internet dissidents. This year, Reporters without Borders named Bahrain one of the top five worst governments to engage in extensive hi-tech surveillance of its citizens.

Much like people in other Middle Eastern countries that experienced the Arab Spring, Bahrain's activists use Twitter and other social media to spread the word about dissent and rights violations.

Besides the six people sentenced to prison on Wednesday, the Bahraini government has also jailed at least three other activists in the past few months for allegedly offensive tweets, according to Amnesty International. The names of the people imprisoned on Wednesday and what exactly they tweeted were not revealed.