New York, March 8, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Kuwaiti court’s decision to fine a journalist and two newspapers for statements deemed offensive to the ruling family and the prime minister.
On Sunday, a criminal
court in Kuwait
fined opposition writer and journalist Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem 3,000 Kuwaiti
dinars (US$10,500) for publishing an article in November critical of Prime
Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who
is also a member of the ruling family, according
to local news reports. The article alleged that media outlets
backed by the prime minister had been stoking tensions between the country’s
Sunni and Shiite communities. Al-Jassem’s lawyer, Abdulkarim Haidar, said he would appeal the decision. The independent daily Alam
Al-Youm, which published
the article, was also fined the same amount.
“We urge the Kuwaiti
judiciary to overturn these sentences,” said CPJ’s Middle
East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “The
press should be able to freely criticize government officials even if they are
members of the ruling family. It is outrageous that criticizing public officials
is a crime in Kuwait.”
In a separate case,
the same court fined the daily Al-Ru`ya, which published an interview
with Member of Parliament Mohammad Hayef, in which he criticized divisions in
the ruling family. Both the paper and the MP were fined 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars (US$10,500).