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Political activist fined, sentenced to three months in jail

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 1 July 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed dismay at the 30 June 2010 ruling of a misdemeanor court in Kuwait that sentenced Khaled Al Fadala, the secretary-general of the National Democratic Alliance, to three months in prison and a fine of KD150 (approx. US$500). Al Fadala was convicted of "insult" and "libel" after the Kuwaiti prime minister initiated legal action against him.

In January 2010, the public prosecutor laid charges against Al Fadala for expressing contempt for a public official. The charges were based on a communiqué submitted by the prime minister. In November 2009, Al Fadala made a speech in a public square titled "Go, we deserve better", in which he criticized the prime minister's performance and political corruption in Kuwait.

ANHRI said, "It is unacceptable that the Kuwaiti prime minister, Nasser Al Mohammad, - a member of the royal family of Kuwait - turns out to be the primary cause of the imprisonment of journalists and activists. No sooner had the court provisionally released the writer Mohammed Al Jassim for a hearing scheduled in September 2010 than Al Fadala was sentenced to three months' imprisonment. The writer and MP Mohammed Hayef Al Mutairi was also fined KD3,000 (approx. US$10,300) in March 2010 for criticizing the prime minister."

ANHRI notes the growing trend of abuse against journalists and activists in Kuwait, and raises concerns about the future of freedom of expression and democracy in the country, which in the past was a role model to the neighbouring Gulf states.

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