Kuwait ex-MP freed to fight emir insult sentence

By the Associated Press | April 22, 2013 | 10:30 AM EDT

Former Kuwait's member of parliament Musallam al-Barrack is greeted by supporters outside the Justice Palace in Kuwait City on Monday, April 22, 2013. The court ruled that Barrak should be released on bail of 5,000 dinars ($17,600) and that his lawyers could argue his case next month. The opposition figure was sentenced to five years in jail last week for remarks made at a rally last year. (AP Photo/Gustavo Ferrari)

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — A defense lawyer in Kuwait says a former parliament member was granted bail and will remain free while fighting a five-year sentence for a speech considered insulting to the Gulf nation's emir.

Monday's court decision defuses a brewing political crisis after Musallam al-Barrack refused to surrender to authorities last week. His supporters clashed with security forces and threatened to escalate protests.

Defense lawyer Abdullah al-Ahmad say al-Barrack was granted bail while he appeals the conviction and the sentence. Bail was set at 5,000 dinars, about $17,500.

Al-Barrack, a leading opposition figure, was charged for a speech last year in which he derided Kuwait's ruler for making changes to the country's voting law.

Kuwaiti officials have sharply increased crackdown on dissent, including arrests for Twitter posts deemed offensive to the emir.