Kuwait denies kidnapping reporter

Interior ministry says the arrest of a journalist over a web posting insulting the Amir was lawful.
Kuwait denies kidnapping reporter
By Lynne Roberts
Wed 22 Aug 2007 01:35 AM

Kuwait’s Interior Ministry has said the arrest of journalist Bashar Al-Sayegh, over comments about the country’s Amir, was lawful and denied press claims the reporter had been kidnapped.

Al-Sayegh was arrested Saturday evening along with fellow journalist Jassem Al Qamis at the Al-Jarida newspaper offices over comments posted on a personal web site administered by Al-Sayegh. The writer of the comments, who works at the Ministry of Defence, was also arrested according to Kuwait Times.

Acting Interior Undersecretary Major General Ahmad Al-Rujaib said in a press conference that the comments were punishable by law.

“This is a national security crime” he said, referring to article article 25 of criminal law which states a prison term “not exceeding five years will be handed down to anyone who publicly challenges the rights or authorities of the Amir or insults him – whether in speech, writing, drawing, or any other means of expression.”

The arrest of Al Qamis, who was released a few hour later, was over “obstructing security personnel while carrying out their duties as stipulated by article 135 of criminal law,” Al-Rujaib said.

Al-Sayegh, who was released on bail Tuesday – two days after his arrest, told Kuwait Times he was doing well and could meet with prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed today (Wednesday).

Al-Rujaib said Al-Sayegh’s arrest had been undertaken according to procedure, with members of the force declaring who they were and producing a General Prosecution arrest order.

He stressed that freedom of the press had been fully observed, but said journalists could be arrested for other reasons.

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