KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Top Kuwaiti journalist and writer Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem, detained several times in the past, has been arrested on charges of instigating to overthrow the regime, his lawyer said on Thursday.
“He handed himself over to the state security department (secret service) on Tuesday noon after receiving a phone call asking him to come to the department,” Abdullah al-Ahmad told AFP.
Jassem was interrogated by the public prosecutor for a total of 15 hours during the past two nights while he remains in the detention of state security, Ahmad said.
He is accused of instigating to overthrow the regime, undermining the status of the emir and instigating to dismantle the foundations of Kuwaiti society, and he faces a life term if convicted on any count, the lawyer said.
“Last (Wednesday) night he went on hunger strike and stopped taking his medication in protest at the arrest and the accusations,” said Ahmad, adding that his client is a heart patient who underwent open heart surgery.
The lawsuit against Jassem was filed by the minister of the royal court, Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad, the elder son of Kuwait’s ruler, he said.
The lawsuit was based on articles written by Jassem on his website over the past five years deemed too critical and also on three books he has written on the political situation in the oil-rich Gulf state.
“The accusations are politically-motivated since they are based on a political opinion and not a criminal offence,” Ahmad said.
Jassem has been arrested several times before on allegations that he slandered Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah. In November, he was detained for 12 days.
In April, the lower court sentenced Jassem to six months in jail and a 17,500-dollar fine for allegedly slandering the prime minister.
The court, however, told Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem to pay 5,000 dinars (17,500 dollars) to have the prison term suspended until the case has been heard by the court of appeals.
Jassem is also facing five similar lawsuits for criticising the prime minister, three of them filed by the premier himself and two others by the information ministry.