Anger over Kuwait media fines

2010-03-10 20:06

Kuwait City - Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday deplored fines a Kuwaiti court imposed on a journalist, two MPs and three dailies for statements deemed offensive to the ruling family and premier.

"These convictions leave us very concerned for the future of free expression and press freedom in Kuwait," the media watchdog said in a statement.

"All this runs counter to the declared desire of the Kuwaiti authorities to embody democratic ideals in the Gulf," it added.

The criminal court on Sunday fined journalist Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem $10 500 for alleging that media close to the prime minister had been stoking tensions between Shi'ites and Sunnis.

Alam Al-Youm, the newspaper which ran the article in August last year, received the same fine.

The court also fined MPs Mohammad Hayef and Marzouk al-Ghanem $10 500 each for issuing statements deemed offensive to the emirate's ruling family, Reporters Without Border said.

Two newspapers which published the statements were handed similar fines.

The verdicts can still be challenged in the appeals and supreme courts.

In November, Jassem was detained for 10 days when he refused to pay bail after being questioned in a lawsuit filed by the prime minister accusing him of slander.

In October, the same court fined MPs Waleed al-Tabatabai and Hassan Jowhar $10 500 each after convicting them of slandering top officials, including the premier.

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