Bessisso and al-Dakhil were sentenced to life in prison for their work with Al-Nida’, a newspaper that Iraqi authorities launched during Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990. At the end of 2002, they were the last remaining imprisoned journalists in Kuwait, which jailed 17 reporters and editors for their work with Al-Nida’ following the Gulf War, charging them with collaboration.
The two jailed journalists were reportedly tortured during their interrogations. Their trial, which began on May 19, 1991, in a martial-law court, failed to meet international standards of justice. In particular, prosecutors failed to refute the journalists’ defense that they had been forced to work for the Iraqi newspaper.
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 imprisonment. The other 15 journalists were freed gradually starting in 1996, most on the occasion of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah’s annual prisoner amnesties in February.
In 2002, the emir pardoned Bessisso and al-Dakhil. But because Bessisso is not a citizen of any country, no nation is willing to accept him as a refugee. Al-Dakhil, a naturalized Kuwaiti citizen from Iraq, lost her citizenship as a result of her conviction and is also awaiting deportation. Both are currently being held in Kuwaiti jails while they try to find countries of residence.