February 9, 2011

His Highness Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah
Emir of the State of Kuwait
Al-Diwan al-Amiri
Kuwait City
Fax: +965 539 3069

His Excellency Ahmed al-Baqir
Minister of Justice
P.O.Box 6
Safat 13001
Fax: +965 243 3750

His Excellency Sheikh Jaber Khalid Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 12500
Shamiya 71655
Fax: +965 243 6570

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of journalist and blogger Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem. However, we remain concerned that he is being subjected to continued judicial harassment.

According to our information, al-Jassem was released on January 23, 2011, after spending more than two months in Kuwait Central Prison. His release came after Kuwait’s Supreme Court overturned the three-month jail sentence handed down on November 22, 2010, on a charge of defaming the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, in an article published in 2009. Al-Jassem is now on trial for a separate case on charges of defaming the Emir and spreading false information about Kuwait.

This latest case is among 18 that the government of Kuwait has reportedly filed against Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem for his writings, four of which were brought by the Prime Minister in the last year. Al-Jassem was acquitted in two out of the four cases. According al-Jassem’s lawyer, he faces charges varying from defamation to “instigating to overthrow the regime.” A special section has been set up within the Ministry of Justice to look exclusively into the cases brought against him.  

PEN American Center welcomes the release of Mohammed Abdulqader al-Jassem from prison following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the charge. However, we remain concerned that he faces a campaign of judicial harassment solely for his writings, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kuwait is a signatory. We therefore urge the government of Kuwait to drop all remaining charges against al-Jassem and guarantee that he will be protected from further arrest as a matter of urgency.

Thank you for your consideration of this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Sheikh Salim Al-Abdullah Al-Jaber Al Sabah
Chief of Mission
Embassy of Kuwait to the United States of America
2940 Tilden Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008 
Fax: (202) 364-2868

>> Back to Rapid Action