PEN International is deeply concerned about the two-year prison sentences handed down to Kuwaiti blogger Rashid al-Anzi on January 6, 2013, and journalist Ayyad al-Harbi on January 9, 2013, for allegedly insulting the Kuwaiti ruling family. PEN considers that they are targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kuwait is a party, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. PEN also calls upon the authorities to take all necessary steps to guarantee their safety and protection while in detention.

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Background Information

According to PEN’s information, a criminal court in the capital, Kuwait City, sentenced blogger Rashid al-Anzi and journalist Ayyad al-Harbi to two years in prison on January 6, 2013, and January 9, 2013, respectively. They were convicted in two separate cases for “insulting the ruling family” in comments posted on Twitter.

Rashid al-Anzi was sentenced for a tweet that “criticized the rights and powers of the Emir.” Anzi, who has 5,700 Twitter followers, is expected to appeal. He was arrested on May 28, 2012, at Kuwait city airport upon his return from a trip and released after two days on bail of $2500.

Journalist Ayyad al-Harbi, who works for the web site Sabr was arrested on November 13, 2012, in connection with a series of tweets he posted in October 2012 in which he criticized the government of Kuwait. He was released the following day on bail. The court convicted him on January 9, 2013, on the charge of “insulting the ruling family,” which is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to Article 54 of the constitution. Al- Harbi denies the charges and maintains that he was using appropriate language when referring to the Emir.

Kuwait has had the highest rate of imprisonment in cases dealing with free expression in the Arab world in the past year. Eight writers have been arrested for critical comments, including blogger Hamad Al-Naqi who was sentenced on June 4, 2012, to 10 years in prison for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad in his blog; Lawrence al-Rasheed, also sentenced to 10 years for insulting the Emir of Kuwait in a poem; and Mohamed el-Melify, sentenced to seven years in prison for spreading false statements via Twitter.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the detention of journalist Ayyad al-Harbi and blogger Rashid al-Anzi solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kuwait is a signatory;
  • Seeking guarantees that they will be protected while in detention as a matter of urgency;
  • Urging the Kuwaiti authorities to stop using charges of insulting the ruling family to stifle freedom of expression.

Send Your Letter To

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 Jamal Al-Shihab
Minister of Jusice
P.O. Box 6
Safat 13001
Fax: +965 243 3750

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