국제앰네스티는 명예훼손 혐의로 구금중인 언론인이자 블로거인 무하마드 압 알-카데르 알-셈(Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qader al-Jasem)의 석방을 쿠웨이트 정부에 요청했다.
무하마드는 구속영장이 발부됐다는 통보를 받은 후 10일 국가 보안 관리들을 직접 찾아 갔으며, 현재 자신의 구금에 맞서 단식운동을 벌이고 있다.
그는 나세르 알 사바 쿠웨이트 총리에 대한 비판적인 논평을 했다는 이유로 경찰의 수배를 받고 있었으며, 이 사태를 “정치적 재판”으로 칭하며 단식 투쟁에 돌입했다.
국제앰네스티 하시바 하지 사라위(Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui) 중동 및 북아프리카국 부국장은 “무하마드 압 알-카데르 알-자셈에 대한 쿠웨이트의 행동은 사상과 의사의 자유를 존중한다는 그들의 주장과 상반된다”며 “무하마드는 자신의 견해를 나타냈다는 이유만으로 구금돼있는 양심수이며, 그에 대한 모든 고발을 무혐의 처리해야 한다”고 전했다.
Kuwaiturged to releaseblogger whocriticised PrimeMinister
14 May 2010
AmnestyInternational hascalled on theKuwaiti governmentto release a bloggerand journalist whohas gone on hungerstrike in protest athis detention oncharges ofdefamation.
Muhammad ‘Abdal-Qader al-Jasemvoluntarily turnedhimself in to StateSecurity officialson Monday, afterbeing informed thata warrant for hisarrest had beenprepared,
He was wanted forallegedly makingcomments critical ofthe Kuwaiti PrimeMinister, SheikhNasser Al Sabah, andhas since begun ahunger strikeagainst what he hastermed his”political trial”.
The writer has beenquestioned by StateSecurity officialsabout articles andbooks he haspublished, includingthose published upto five years ago,while interrogatorsare said to beporing over articleson his website..
Al-Jasem’s lawyertold AmnestyInternational onFriday that requeststo see his clientand allow familyvisits had beenignored.
“The constanthounding of Muhammad’Abd al-Qaderal-Jasem makes amockery of Kuwait’smuch vaunted claimthat they respectfreedom of thoughtand opinion,” saidHassibaHadj-Sahraoui,AmnestyInternational’sMiddle East andNorth Africa deputydirector.
“He is a prisoner ofconscience, heldsolely forexpressing hisviews, and allcharges against himmust be dropped.”
Prime Minister AlSabah is said tohave lodged fiveofficial complaintsof defamationagainst al-Jasem,while a confidant ofthe Prime Ministerhas filed 10 more,according toal-Jasem’s lawyer.
The journalist wassentenced to sixmonths’ imprisonmentin 1 April oncriminal slandercharges, aftercalling for thePrime Minister’sresignation andsaying he wasincapable of runningthe country at aconference inFebruary.
He was released onbail of 5,000Kuwaiti dinars(around US$17,500),pending an appealhearing. On 2 April,he wrote an articlesaying that he wouldcontinue to expresshis opinions.
The news of hisrenewed detentioncomes as the Kuwaitiauthorities havebeen explaining tothe internationalcommunity, beforethe UN Human RightsCouncil in theframework of theUniversal PeriodicReview (UPR), thattheir constitutionguarantees freedomof expression.
“On Wednesday, theKuwaiti authoritiestold the world theConstitutionsupports freedom ofexpression, yet theprosecution ofMuhammad ‘Abdal-Qader al-Jasemdemonstrates howdisconnected suchstatements are fromthe reality faced bygovernment criticsin Kuwait,” saidHassibaHadj-Sahraoui.
Officials are saidto be scrutinizingevery one ofal-Jasem’s blogposts from the lastfive years, as wellas a book hepublished in 2006,despite laws thatpreclude legalclaims againstpublished work morethan 90 days afterpublication.
On 22 November 2009,Muhammad ‘Abdal-Qader al-Jasemwas arrested andheld for 12 daysafter criticizingthe Prime Ministerduring a privatemeeting in October2009.
The arrest anddetention ofMuhammad ‘Abdal-Qader al-Jasemare in breach ofArticle 19 of theInternationalCovenant on Civiland PoliticalRights, whichguarantees the rightto freedom ofexpression.
UN human rightsexperts say allegeddefamation of publicfigures, such aspoliticians, shouldnot be criminalized,as those in thepublic eye “shouldbe expected totolerate morecriticism thanprivate citizens”.They have also saidfreedom of opinionand expressioninvolves the rightto freely criticizepoliticians andother publicpersonalities.