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Sun 1 Feb 2015 11:57 AM

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Online activists detained in Kuwait for posts 'offensive' to late Saudi king

At least five human rights activists were reportedly secretly detained, with arrested warrants issued for several more amid Kuwait’s free speech crackdown

Online activists detained in Kuwait for posts 'offensive' to late Saudi king

At least five online activists have been arrested in Kuwait for posting comments deemed offensive to Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah, according to the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCMV).

Undercover police officers arrested Mohammad Al Ajmi, a member of NCMV, outside his house on Wednesday night, the group said on its Twitter account.

Rights activist Nawaf Al Hendal said at least four others also had been detained for comments posted online about the late king and arrest warrants had been issued for several more, including himself. He is presently in Geneva at a UN human rights meeting, Kuwait Times said.

The independent Gulf Centre for Human Rights said Al Hendal was being “targeted in order to intimidate him and others from working as defenders of human rights”.

Kuwaiti authorities have not publicly acknowledged or denied the reported arrests and the public prosecutor has not revealed any related charges, Kuwait Times claimed.

The reported arrests coincided with a Human Rights Watch report released on Saturday that said the Kuwaiti government had targeted free speech throughout 2014, detaining numerous people who posted online comments it did not like.

Former liberal MP Saleh Al Mulla was detained for five days in January for Twitter comments deemed offensive to Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, which were posted during the leader’s visit to Kuwait. He is due to stand trial on February 15.

Shia MP Abdulhameed Dashti also has been charged with criticising Bahraini leaders and former Islamist MP Mubarak Al Duwailah was questioned over comments critical of Abu Dhabi’s rulers.

Kuwaiti authorities also last month shut down an independent newspaper because it published stories about a video that could be incriminating for some government officials.