Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 10:58 GMT

Journalists Killed in 2001 - Motive Unconfirmed: Hidaya Sultan al-Salem

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date January 2002
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalists Killed in 2001 - Motive Unconfirmed: Hidaya Sultan al-Salem, January 2002, available at: [accessed 23 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

March 20, 2001, in Kuwait City, Kuwait

Al-Salem, a 66-year-old veteran journalist who owned and edited the weekly magazine Al-Majales, was killed on her way to work when an armed assailant opened fire on her chauffeur-driven car in Kuwait City.

The assailant, who was described as wearing a traditional long robe, apparently got out of a four-wheel drive car and fired several rounds into al-Salem's car while it was stopped in traffic. She died shortly thereafter.

According to Kuwaiti police and prosecutors, the main suspect, a police officer named Khaled al-Azmi, confessed to killing al-Salem. However, he later recanted in court, saying police had forced him to confess. One Kuwaiti source who was monitoring the case told CPJ that al-Azmi recanted on the advice of his lawyer in order to avoid the death penalty. CPJ could not verify this claim. In February 2002, al-Azmi was convicted of the murder.

Early in the investigation, Kuwaiti authorities said that al-Azmi killed al-Salem in revenge for an earlier Al-Majales article that he found insulting to the women of his tribe. The article, however, was written some eight months earlier – a fact that struck some as peculiar.

There was considerable speculation about the reasons for the assassination, including alleged financial disputes within al-Salem's family and other alleged disputes with some of her employees. In the latest edition of Al-Majales, according to press reports, al-Salem published an open letter claiming she had been harassed by the police.

In November, a source in Kuwait said there was speculation that al-Azmi may have killed al-Salem because of a personal dispute between the two involving al-Azmi's sister.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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