Al-Arabiya correspondent arrested after news report

New York, January 6, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly protests the arrest of a correspondent for news channel Al-Arabiya in Kuwait yesterday, shortly after the station aired a disputed report of clashes between Kuwaiti government forces and militants.

Correspondent Adil Aidan remained in custody today after his arrest by Kuwaiti authorities, according to Al-Arabiya and CPJ sources in Kuwait.

Al-Arabiya News Director Nakhle al-Haj said Kuwaiti authorities did not provide a reason for the arrest, but he and Kuwaiti journalists told CPJ that it stemmed from an on-air news report in which Aidan, citing a Kuwaiti security source, said that militants had clashed with security forces.

The government later denied the report, and the station reported the denial, said al-Haj, speaking from the satellite channel’s Dubai headquarters.

Kuwaiti journalists told CPJ that Aiden is being investigated for disseminating “false news” although it is unclear what criminal charges he may face. Attempts to reach government officials in Kuwait were not successful and phone calls to Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, Sheikh Salem al-Sabah, were not immediately returned.

“Arresting journalists for their work is a deplorable practice—and all the more troubling for Kuwait, which has prided itself on the relative freedom its press enjoys,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on Kuwaiti officials to immediately release Adil Aidan.”

Kuwaiti journalists staged a protest today outside the Ministry of the Interior, a CPJ source said.