Ailing Journalist Held in Kuwait Prison
Al-Husseini and Four Others Serving Life Sentences

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December 14, 1998

His Excellency Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah
Crown Prince and Prime Minister
Al-Diwan al-Amiri
Al-Safat
Kuwait City, Kuwait


Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization of journalists devoted to upholding press freedom worldwide, writes with deep concern about the case of Abdel Rahman al-Husseini, a journalist formerly with the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) who is serving a life sentence in Kuwait for allegedly collaborating with Iraqi occupation forces between 1990 and 1991.

CPJ has learned that al-Husseini, now in the seventh year of his prison term, is suffering from a variety of health ailments including heart disease and a dislocated disc in his spine. According to medical sources, al-Husseini suffers specifically from diseased arteries which increase his risk of heart attack.

On June 16, 1991, al-Husseini and four other journalists --Usamah Suhail Abdallah Hussein; Fawwaz Muhammad al-Awadi Bessisso; Ahmad Abed Mustafa, and Ibtisam Berto Sulaiman al-Dakhil--were convicted by a martial law tribunal for their work with the Iraqi occupation newspaper, Al-Nida. Their trial, which began on May 19, 1991, failed to comply with international standards of justice. The defendants said that they were tortured during their interrogations. Their defense--that they were coerced to work for the Iraqi newspaper--was not rebutted by prosecutors. On June 16, 1991, the journalists were sentenced to death. Ten days later, following international protests, all martial-law death sentences were commuted to life terms.

Since 1992, our organization has repeatedly appealed to Kuwaiti authorities for the release of those journalists imprisoned for their work with Al-Nida on the basis that their imprisonment represents a violation of the internationally recognized right to freedom of expression. We note with satisfaction that Kuwaiti authorities have released 14 other imprisoned journalists who were sentenced by martial law tribunals and state security courts between 1991 and 1992 for their work with Al-Nida.

The Committee to Protect Journalists respectfully urges Your Excellency to examine all possible legal options to ensure the release from prison of Abdel Rahman al-Husseini; Usamah Suhail Abdallah Hussein; Fawwaz Muhammad al-Awadi Bessisso; Ahmad Abed Mustafa, and Ibtisam Berto Sulaiman al-Dakhil in accordance with free expression guarantees under international law and in light of humanitarian considerations. We further ask that you see to it that Abdel Rahman al-Husseini receive immediate treatment for his medical conditions.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. We look forward to a reply at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director



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His Excellency Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah
Crown Prince and Prime Minister
Al-Diwan al-Amiri
Al-Safat
Kuwait City, Kuwait
VIA FAX: 965 245 74 76