Protest Arrest and Trial of Kuwaiti Blogger
|January 7, 2011|
Mohammed Abdulqader Al-Jasem, a prominent Kuwaiti lawyer, journalist and blogger, was imprisoned on May 11, 2010 for criticizing his country’s government. Al-Jasem, 54, has published six books on democracy and Middle Eastern politics and served as editor of Newsweek Arabic, Arab Reform Bulletin, and Al-Watan Daily.
The charges against Al-Jasem include "instigating to overthrow the regime and dismantle the foundations of Kuwaiti society" and "disseminating false information that will undermine the dignity of the state abroad." In truth, his articles merely criticized the Kuwaiti Prime Minister and questioned Iranian influence in Kuwait. Kuwait's Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, is demanding that Al-Jasem compensate him with $15,000.
Mohamed's daughter, Laila, wrote the Kuwaiti Prime Minister asking, "Do you aspire to imprison everyone who expresses his or her opinions? When will it end? Will this be the fate of every reformer who expresses his or her opinion? Is there enough room for them in Kuwaiti prisons? For they are a lot...I know that my father taught me how to be persistent in my opinions, how to sacrifice for the sake of my country, and what pride and glory truly mean. What did you teach me, Sheikh? Did you want to teach me that my father's detainment is a source of pride for you? Do you want to teach others, and me that Kuwait will be more sophisticated and open as a result of my father's detainment?"
On June 26, human rights organizations together with Al-Jasem’s lawyers and doctors were able to convince the court that his health had deteriorated sharply since his arrest in May and he was conditionally released after 49 days in detention. Al Jasem's trial was postponed to September 20. On November 22nd, 2010, Al-Jasem was sentenced to one year in prison.
On December, 22nd, 2010, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said that the city court and the criminal court decided to adjourn the case filed by the Kuwaiti Prime Minister against Al-Jasem. The following day, his family wrote an impassioned letter to Prime Minister Al-Sabah in which they requested that he allow a fair and impartial trial. They believe that the continuous delay of his case is intended to prolong his jail sentence, and they believe that the judges who prolong his period of incarceration are acting at the behest of the Prime Minister.
The arrest and trial of Al-Jasem is a supreme violation of man's most basic rights and it reminds us that Kuwait, though more open than most other Middle Eastern dictatorships, still has a long way to go.
CyberDissidents.org is planning a series of protests at the Kuwaiti consulate in New York at 321 E. 44th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues). and at dozens of universities throughout North America. The dates of the campaign will be finalized shortly.
Freedom of expression is a universal and unalienable right. Please join us in protesting Kuwaiti repression. Al-Jasem's fate depends on it.