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Blogger arrested in Kuwait, accused of defamation

(ANHRI/IFEX) - ANHRI condemns the authorities' arrest of blogger Abdulaziz Bou-Hamid after a report was filed against him by a police officer, accusing him of slander and libel.

On 18 September 2012, the authorities summoned Bou-Hamid after a police officer accused the blogger of swearing at him, the interior minister and other ministry personnel. After two hours of questioning at the Salhiah police station, Bou-Hamid was arrested. He was handcuffed and transferred to the general administration office at the criminal investigation building, where the officer who filed the report works. Witnesses refuted the allegations against the blogger.

The incident in question took place on 10 September, during a sit-in by the Kuwaiti opposition in El-Eradah square. The Interior Ministry had issued a warning against carrying out sit-ins or marches, considering them to be a security and public order violation punishable by a fine or imprisonment. As the sit-in participants were exiting the square after the event, an argument took place between Bou-Hamid and a police officer, which was witnessed by several individuals who were in the vicinity. The dispute was resolved, but the following day the officer filed two reports against Bou-Hamid in which he accused the blogger of defaming the interior minister and other ministry personnel. Bou-Hamid subsequently filed a report stating that the officer had sworn at and threatened him.

Following Bou-Hamid's arrest, activists and bloggers called for a sit-in in front of the criminal investigation building to condemn the arrest.

"The arbitrary arrest of the blogger and his transfer to the criminal investigation building is a clear violation of the law and raises a lot of doubts about the credibility of the investigation. This matter proves how the law is used against activists and opinion makers for their role and participation in the popular movement that took place in the country and for their calls for political and social reforms," says ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on the Kuwaiti authorities to immediately release the blogger, drop all charges against him and guarantee his safety. In addition, ANHRI holds the authorities responsible for any harm that may come to him.

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