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Newspaper editor sentenced to six months' imprisonment

(RSF/IFEX) - 15 March 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the six-month prison sentence that a Kuwait City court imposed on Abdul Hussein Al-Sultan, the editor of the pro-Shiite daily Al-Dar, on 12 March.

“This sentence, combined with an order suspending the newspaper's publication for three months, in the wake of two other recent suspension orders, demonstrates a pattern of official harassment,” the press freedom organization said, calling for the lifting of the suspension and the dismissal of all charges against Al-Sultan.

“This harsh sentence could have serious consequences for press freedom in a country which up to now had been a model of freedom of expression in the Persian Gulf region,” Reporters Without Borders added.

Al-Sultan remains free on a 1,000-dinar (2,700 euros) bond and plans to appeal the sentence. The newspaper's suspension was prompted by two articles that were accused of inciting violations of public order and expressing hate toward certain religious and social groups.

Al-Sultan and the information ministry have clashed repeatedly over the past three years. Al-Dar was suspended on 1 February, on the eve legislative elections. The suspension was extended again on 5 March.

The information ministry invoked “national security” and “civil order” in taking these actions, citing article 111 of the penal code, and paragraphs 2 and 7 of article 21 of Law No. 3 of 2006 on printing and publishing.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that a hearing is scheduled on 21 May for 11 people accused of invading the offices of television network Al-Watan on 31 January. Fourteen members of the security forces were wounded during the incident, as were three journalists, including Yusuf Al-Mutairi and photographer Mohamed Al-Sharhan of the newspaper Al-Jarida.
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