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Journalist and researcher Yasser al-Habib sentenced in absentia; serious concerns for his safety

(WiPC/IFEX) - The WiPC is gravely concerned for the safety of writer, journalist and researcher Yasser al-Habib, who is reported to have been sentenced in absentia by the Kuwait Criminal Court on 5 May 2004 to 10 years in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime.

He was sentenced to one year's imprisonment on 20 January for defaming the companions of the prophet Muhammad in a lecture he had delivered, but then released on 25 February as part of a prisoner amnesty to mark Kuwaiti National Day. According to PEN's information, the Wahhabi lobby within the National Assembly pressured the justice minister to order al-Habib's re-arrest, and on 9 March new charges were brought against him under the National Security Laws. He was reportedly sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison on 5 May for attempting to overthrow the regime.

The writer remains in hiding and on 4 June a group of some 20 armed security guards reportedly raided his family home in search of him and assaulted his father.

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