Detained Kuwaiti Blogger Ends Hunger Strike

Blogger and journalist Mohammad Abdul-Kader al-Jassem was hospitalised after he started refusing food and medicine last Wednesday . He was detained on May 11 following a complaint against him from Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah's office. "He stopped the hunger strike on the advice of doctors who warned him he could have kidney failure," attorney Jasser al-Jidei told Reuters. Jassem, a staunch critic of the government, was accused by the authorities of insulting the emir, inciting the overthrow of government, and spreading false news that could affect Kuwait's national interests, according to Jidei. If the case goes to court and he is convicted, he could be sentenced to 18 years.

The emir is protected from criticism by the constitution. Jidei said he was allowed to meet with Jassem on Monday and his client's morale was "very high." "He says the accusations are false and he just expressed views about the political situation in Kuwait," the lawyer said. On his website, Jassem has criticised the ruling family and blamed Prime Minister Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah for mismanagement and corruption. Another lawyer, Abdullah al-Ahmad, said the blogger was questioned about three political books he published after they were licensed by authorities.

Freedom of speech campaign group Reporters Without Borders has called for Jassem's immediate release and all charges against him to be dropped. It said the writer was sentenced in April to six months in prison for slandering the prime minister, but the court suspended the sentence pending an appeal.

Published Date: May 19, 2010 10:22 am | Updated Date: May 19, 2010 10:22 am