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Tue 22 Apr 2014 12:05 PM

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Kuwaiti newspapers appeal suspension over 'plot tape' stories

Two dailies claim their two-week suspension is illegal and threatens freedom of speech in Kuwait

Kuwaiti newspapers appeal suspension over 'plot tape' stories

Two Kuwaiti newspapers suspended after they published stories about a recording that discusses an alleged plot to overthrow the Gulf state's ruling system will have their legal appeal heard today, according to Kuwait Times, which is not one of the publications.

Al Watan and Alam Al Youm dailies claim a judge’s decision on Sunday to force them to close for two weeks was illegal.

Their lawyers reportedly demanded the court reverse its decision and lift the suspension until a decision on the appeal has been made.

The newspapers were suspended from print after the Information Ministry imposed a news blackout on a sensitive investigation into the tape, saying earlier this month that media coverage about it was damaging to the country.

A parliament session discussing the tape last week was held behind closed doors, Reuters reported.

The news outlets have continued to publish online, including stories related to the tape and investigation.

Reports about the tape have featured extensively in local newspapers and online since the start of the year, prompting a rare statement from the ruling emir's office this month, which told people to stop discussing the topic.

The public prosecutor opened a case into the tape in December after a legal complaint by a former parliament speaker who asked for an investigation into tweets about the recording.

Kuwait is home to about a dozen daily newspapers and has a freer media environment than other Gulf Arab states, but issues related to the ruling system - a hereditary dynasty - are especially sensitive.

Strongly criticising the newspapers’ suspension, MP Riyadh Al Adasani said the government was suppressing freedom of speech.

He threatened to raise the issue during an upcoming grilling of the prime minister.

MP Abdulkarim Al Kundari also has submitted a proposal to amend article 15 of the press and publications law to ban the withdrawal of a publication license or shut it down prior to a final court verdict.

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