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Kuwait Court Cuts Prominent Writer's Jail Term to 3 Months

Kuwait's appeals court on Wednesday reduced to three months a one-year jail term given to a prominent writer and journalist for allegedly slandering the prime minister, his lawyer said.

The ruling means that Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem, who was arrested on November 22, will remain in jail at least for the time being, Abdullah al-Ahmad told AFP.

Ahmad said he will challenge the ruling at the court of cassation, Kuwait's supreme court, whose decisions are final.

A lower court sentenced Jassem on November 22 to one year in prison over an article he posted on his website about a year ago deemed offensive to Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

The article charges that Iranian intelligence was interfering in Kuwait's affairs through a leading businessman close to Sheikh Nasser, a leading member of the Al-Sabah ruling family.

Jassem had denied that he had accused the prime minister of collaborating with Iranian intelligence.

In the article, Jassem also called for the prime minister to step down, saying he could no longer run the oil-rich Gulf state.

Jassem, 54, underwent heart surgery last week at a public hospital after he was rushed there from prison.

In October, Kuwait dropped 27 positions in the Reporters Without Borders' world press rankings, mainly because of its harsh treatment of Jassem, according to the media watchdog.

In April, the lower court sentenced Jassem to six months in jail for allegedly slandering the prime minister at a public rally, but the appeals court overturned the sentence three months later.

Jassem is also facing several other cases, mostly filed by the prime minister alleging slander.

In May, he was arrested and detained for 49 days on state security charges that he had undermined the status of the emir and harmed national interests.

Jassem was also detained for 12 days last year over a similar case filed by the prime minister, who was appointed to the post in February 2006.

Source: Agence France Presse


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