Kuwait detains ex-MP Saleh Al Mullah for critical tweets

Filed on January 12, 2015
Kuwait detains ex-MP Saleh Al Mullah for critical tweets

Authorities ordered him held for 10 days for tweets criticising the country’s ruler and his support for Egypt’s president.

Kuwait City — Kuwaiti authorities detained a former liberal lawmaker overnight for questioning and on Wednesday ordered him held for 10 days for tweets criticising the country’s ruler and his support for Egypt’s president, a defence lawyer said.

Abdullah Al Ahmad said prosecutors began questioning Saleh Al Mullah late on Tuesday about tweets he wrote on Monday, when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi was in Kuwait for an official visit.

Al Mullah — who was an independent and liberal lawmaker for three years until 2011 — wrote on Twitter that Kuwaitis have grown tired of the country’s money being given to boost other governments. Kuwait has pledged at least $4 billion to Sisi’s government following the ouster of president Mohammed Mursi from power in mid-2013.

“Your highness, we won’t accept billions more handed out to other countries. We have donated enough. This is the money of the people of Kuwait,” Al Mullah wrote in Arabic in one tweet.

“The price of oil is $50 a barrel ... Shame on you,” he wrote in another tweet, reflecting region-wide anxiety over the drop in global oil prices and its long-term effect on Arab Gulf countries’ public spending levels.

Al Ahmad said his client is being accused of insulting the Amir, His Highness Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, insulting Egypt’s president and endangering bilateral relations. Al Ahmad said Al Mullah denies the accusations and will request bail. “There is no basis to these accusations, and there is no need to detain my client,” Al Ahmed said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait authorities arrested a former liberal cabinet minister as he attempted to leave the country on Saturday, after being sentenced to a week in jail over an article criticising the government, his lawyer said. Saad Al Ajmi, information minister between 1999-2000, was detained at the airport as he, his wife and daughter were trying to leave for a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, Al Humaidi Al Subaie said on Twitter.

He said Ajmi, a professor at Kuwait University and contributor to several Gulf newspapers, was sentenced on Thursday for an article published by the pro-opposition Al Aan electronic newsletter about two years ago about alleged government corruption.

The court also passed the same sentence on writer Zayed Al Zaid, who co-owned Al Aan with Ajmi, on a complaint by Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh, the lawyer said.

There was no immediate report whether Zaid had also been arrested.

The lawyer said the verdicts were issued in absentia and that neither he nor his clients were informed of the case or the ruling.

The verdict was sent for immediate implementation although such a process normally takes several weeks, he said.

Subaie said he plans to challenge the ruling on Sunday.

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