Kuwait court jails journalist critical of prime minister

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KUWAIT CITY: A court on Thursday sentenced a leading Kuwaiti journalist to six months in jail and a $17,500 fine for allegedly slandering the prime minister, pending an appeal.

The lower court, however, told Mohammed Abdulqader Al-Jassem to pay 5,000 dinars ($17,500) to have the prison term suspended until the case has been heard by the court of appeals.

Jassem told AFP he will "challenge the ruling" before the appeals court, insisting on his innocence.

"This is just an initial verdict and I will appeal against it. I am confident that I have not violated the law in what I have said," said Jassem, who is also a prominent lawyer.

Jassem was charged with making offensive remarks against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir and senior member of the ruling Al-Sabah family, at a small public gathering in October.

He allegedly criticized the premier’s management of the oil-rich Gulf state and called on him to quit.

Jassem said he is facing five similar lawsuits for criticizing the prime minister, three of them filed by the premier himself and two others filed by the information ministry.

The journalist was arrested in November in connection with the case and detained for 12 days after refusing to pay a $3,500 bail, arguing the procedures were illegal.

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