Media banned from covering journalist's trial
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||25 May 2010|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Media banned from covering journalist's trial, 25 May 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c0367d81e.html [accessed 29 August 2014]|
Leading writer and journalist Mohammed Abdel Qader Al-Jassem was brought before a criminal court in Kuwait City yesterday and was charged with harming national interests and undermining the status of Kuwait's emir.
Al-Jassem, who has been detained since 11 May, was notified of the hearing only 12 hours beforehand and was not allowed to talk to his lawyers.
"My father had his hands handcuffed behind his back and was blindfolded for three hours before being brought into the courtroom," his daughter said. "What's more, he was put in a cage in the courtroom used for terrorists. He has been subjected to mistreatment by officials."
The next hearing has been set for 7 June.
Reporters Without Borders has learned that the justice ministry sent a directive to the information ministry forbidding both broadcast and print media to carry any reports about Al-Jassem's trial.
18.05.10 - Prosecutor orders Kuwaiti journalist held for 21 days
Mohammed Abdel Qader Al-Jassem, a leading journalist who had been interrogated by national security officials since 11 May, was transferred to Kuwait City's main prison on the morning of 16 May under a 21-day detention order issued by the general prosecutor.
As soon as the interrogations began, Al-Jassem went on hunger strike in protest against his arrest and the subversion charges brought against him. When his condition deteriorated on 14 May, he was taken to a military hospital and had to resume eating.
Human rights lawyers and writers plan to stage a demonstration today to demand his release. He is now due to appear in court on 5 June.
12.05.10 - Journalist goes on hunger strike in protest at constant hounding
Reporters Without Borders today condemned obvious harassment of prominent journalist and writer Mohammed Abdel Qader al-Jassem and called for it to stop. The worldwide press freedom organisation also called for his immediate release and for all charges to be dropped.
Al-Jassem has been interrogated by the district prosecutor at the National Security ministry since the 11 May. According to local media, the prime minister, Sheikh Mohamed Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is behind this latest summons. The journalist has two lawyers with him but his family has not managed to have any contact with him.
The journalist began a hunger strike in protest to " a political trial".
"The prosecutor called him yesterday morning to tell him that an arrest warrant had been issued against him and inviting him to attend at the department of National Security...unless he wanted to be arrested at his home", his daughter, Sumayah al-Jassim, told Reporters Without Borders. "So he went. It was 1pm when the interrogation started yesterday. It went on until 3 am and then started against this morning. We do not know how much longer it will go on."
She said that the lawyers had told her that they were going through every article that her father had posted on his website in the past five years (www.aljasem.org) and on a book published in 2006. "But there is a law in our country that says it is illegal to take action against any work, more than 90 days after it is published. My father has said he is going to lay a complaint against Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah for bringing a case illegally"
"With this new summons and this interrogation on his writing going back to 2006, it is obvious that Mohammed Abdel Qader al-Jassem is being hounded by the authorities. It has got to stop. We call for the immediate release of the journalist and that all charges still pending against him be dropped," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
Al-Jassem was sentenced on 1st April to six months in prison for "slander" against the prime minister. He had called at public meetings for his resignation, saying he was incapable of running the country. The court however suspended the sentence pending an appeal, fixing bail at 5,000 dinars (about 11,500 euros).
He added that he had indirectly received a letter from the director of National Security telling him to leave the country. The journalist refused to comply and condemned the order on his blog. "I am waiting to receive a summons for this case too", he concluded ironically (http://en.rsf.org/kuwait-journalist-gets-six-month-jail-01-04-2010,36929.html).
Reporters Without Borders underlined that the Kuwaiti prime minister was received by President Nicolas Sarkozy, on 16 April 2010.