Detained blogger released on bail

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) welcome the release on bail on June 28, 2010, of Kuwaiti lawyer, journalist and blogger Mohammad Al Jasem, detained since May 11, 2010 and charged with harming national interests and undermining the status of the Emir of Kuwait. In his blog, Mr Mohammad al-Jasem had accused Prime Minister Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah of mismanagement and corruption.

Mr. Mohammad al-Jasem was arrested on May 11, 2010, after the office of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah filed a complaint against him for “insulting Kuwait Head of State”. An arrest warrant was issued against him and he was placed under a 21-day administrative detention order. He was held incommunicado for more than two weeks, subjected to humiliating treatment, and taken blindfolded and handcuffed to the courtroom.

In April 2010, he had already been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for slander against the Prime Minister, as he had allegedly questioned at a private gathering the Prime Minister’s skills and called for his removal. Mr. al-Jasem appealed the court decision, and his sentence was suspended pending the appeal. Over his career, more than 20 formal complaints have been filed against Mr. al-Jasem for his writings and statements.

On May 24, 2010, the first session of the trial against Mr. Mohammad al-Jasem was held before a Kuwait city criminal Court, and the case was adjourned until June 21, 2010. Mr. al-Jasem was facing up to 18 years’ imprisonment, under the charges of “instigating to overthrow the regime”, “offending the Emir”, “instigating to dismantle the foundations of the Kuwaiti society” and “disseminating false news that would undermine the dignity of the State abroad”.

On June 21, 2010, a medical committee was asked to assess Al-Jasem’s condition and recommended that he should be detained in hospital. The trial was adjourned once again until June 28, 2010, when the judge decided to release him on bail 2000 KD and postpone the hearing to September 2010.

Our organizations denounce the judicial harassment faced by Mr. Mohammad al-Jasem which seems to merely aim at muzzling his right to freedom of expression, and we urge the Kuwaiti authorities to put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him.

FIDH and OMCT are also seriously concerned about the practice of incommunicado detention which violates fundamental rights of detainees. FIDH and OMCT recall that the Government of Kuwait is legally bound to effectively ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived of liberty in accordance with international human rights law, and in particular, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .

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