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Bloggers investigated for anti-monarchy posts

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 10 November 2011 - ANHRI condemns the targeting of bloggers by Kuwaiti authorities and the restriction imposed on their freedom of expression and opinion after two bloggers detained earlier this month are now the subject of an investigation for their writing.

Hamad Al-Alian and Tarek Al-Materi had been detained earlier this month but were granted temporary release by public prosecutors on the occasion of Eid, to be re-investigated afterwards. They have now been accused of "prejudice to the monarchical entity" on Twitter.

The two defendants stated before the Deputy Attorney General that they did not intend to prejudice the monarchical entity with their posts and that their good intentions are further evident in the clarifying tweets they posted once they found out that their earlier tweets were misinterpreted by some people.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time Twitter bloggers are targeted in the country. A Kuwaiti court sentenced blogger Nasser Abel to three months in prison after convicting him of "contempt for the Sunni sect" on Twitter. A few months earlier, the same court sentenced activist Mubarak Al-Batali to three months in prison on charges of "contempt for the Shiite sect" on the same website. The court also imprisoned blogger Mohamed Jassim in June 2010 after he criticized the Kuwaiti Prime Minister. Al Jassim appealed the verdict and was later released.

"The ongoing detentions, investigations, and imprisonment of bloggers for expressing their views through Twitter are real signals of the government's impatience with social freedoms. The muzzling of bloggers is a flagrant violation of freedom of opinion and expression," said AHNRI.

"The charges against these bloggers for contempt or prejudice to the monarchical entity are based on vague wording and only serve to reaffirm the authorities' continuing repression of these freedoms."

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