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Journalist beaten; state monitors blogosphere

A Kuwaiti journalist known for his reporting and activism on corruption was assaulted and left bloodied and bruised on 4 October, reports ARTICLE 19. Freedom of expression is also being diminished with the monitoring of blogs and websites by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Transportation, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

While attending a conference on transparency, Zayed Al Zaid was attacked when he stepped out to take a phone call, reports ARTICLE 19. Al Zaid is the publisher of "Al-Aan" (Now) news website. Photos of Al Zaid covered in blood and bandages have been posted on the site with the caption: "Whatever you do, you will not prevent us from telling the truth. We will continue to unveil corruption wherever it lurks."

Officials, parliamentarians and journalists have condemned the attack and "Al Arabiyya" reports that Kuwait's prime minister has promised a full investigation of the incident, says ARTICLE 19.

Despite this promise, free expression is not fully respected in Kuwait. According to ANHRI, the Minister of Transportation has made statements in the media saying that current scrutiny of blogs is not spying but is instead an effort "to keep society intact and secure." Bloggers say the minister is undermining democracy. It is a blatant way of censoring bloggers and violates the constitution, reports ANHRI.

Kuwaiti law states that "freedom of correspondence by post, telegraph and telephone is protected and confidentiality is guaranteed. Correspondence is not to be monitored or disclosed except in cases declared in the law and according to the listed proceedings within," reports ANHRI.

Kuwaiti bloggers attribute the tactics of the minister to the debates of real societal problems taking place in the blogosphere. During the last parliamentary elections some Internet service companies screened blogs as a result of regulations and powers given to them by the government, explains ANHRI.

Related stories on
  • Anti-corruption journalist attacked

    Photos of the journalist covered in blood have been placed on the website he publishes, with the caption: "Whatever you do, you will not prevent us from telling the truth."

  • Ministry of Transportation monitors blogs and websites

    Bloggers attribute the monitoring of their sites to the fact that they are debating and reflecting upon real societal problems.

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