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Qatar Court Upholds Poet's Sentence

A court in Qatar has upheld a 15-year prison sentence for a poet found guilty of inciting people to overthrow the government and insulting the emir.

Mohammed al-Ajami originally was jailed for life last year, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal in February.

International human rights groups strongly condemned Monday's ruling and called for Ajami's immediate release.

The case against Ajami was said to have been based on a poem he wrote in 2010 that criticized the former emir, Sheikh Hamad al-Thani. But activists believe authorities are punishing him for a poem he wrote in 2011 about authoritarian rule.

In the poem Tunisian Jasmine, Ajami expressed his support for the uprising in the North African state, saying: "We are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite."

Ajami's only recourse now is to appeal to Qatar's present emir for clemency.

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