Biased Judiciary in Kuwait Extends Imprisonment of Blogger
GCHR condemns the new five-year prison sentence issued against blogger Salman Al-Khalidi.
The State Security Criminal Court in Kuwait issued a new ruling of five more years in prison against blogger Salman Al-Khalidi as part of the ongoing targeting he is being subjected to due to his peaceful human rights activity.
On 19 November 2023, the State Security Criminal Court issued in absentia its ruling against Al-Khalidi, sentencing him to a five-year effective prison term with labor.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) says it has received a copy of the ruling, which was issued after he was convicted of the following charges: “intentionally broadcasting false and tendentious news and rumours abroad about the internal situation in the country using the Internet and through his personal account, insulting publicly and in a public place by saying and writing about the head of the state, Insulting the Emir of the country and the Crown Prince, and misusing telephone communications.”
As with previous trials, according to GCHR, the court again did not allow Al-Khalidi to appoint a lawyer and requested his presence in court, which would have exposed him to imminent danger of arrest.
Most of these charges are similar to those he faced when the court sentenced him to three years in prison on 26 September 2023, in a ruling that was also documented by the GCHR.
These allegations are related to his use of his account on X (formerly Twitter) to express his personal opinions on public issues of concern to citizens in Kuwait, and his defense of the civil and humanitarian rights of the Bedoon community, as well as of prisoners of conscience, in addition to his work as a founding member of the Kuwaiti Refugee Association. The headquarters of the Association, which was established in August 2022, are in the United Kingdom, where it holds activities.
GCHR says it has documented previous cases against Al-Khalidi, including when he was sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour on 15 May 2023. He was also sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour on 06 June 2022, but he was pardoned in that case by the Emir of Kuwait on 18 January 2023.
GCHR condemns the new five-year prison sentence issued against blogger Salman Al-Khalidi, which – according to GCHR – clearly and explicitly violates his legitimate right to freedom of expression on the Internet, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom to belong to and work in civil society organisations. GCHR calls on the authorities in Kuwait to stop targeting him immediately and to drop all sentences issued against him.
GCHR also calls on the competent British authorities to provide him with full protection and grant him full political asylum as soon as possible.
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