RAN 32/12 26 June 2012
PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned about the ten-year prison sentence handed down to Kuwaiti blogger Hamad Al-Naqi on 4 June 2012 for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad, as well as the rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. PEN International considers that he is targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his 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 it calls for his immediate and unconditional release. PEN also calls upon the authorities to take all necessary steps to guarantee his safety and protection while in detention.
According to PEN’s information, a criminal court in the capital, Kuwait City, sentenced Hamad Al-Naqi to ten years in prison on 4 June 2012 for “insulting the prophet Muhammad” and also insulting the rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in comment he wrote on his blog.
He was arrested on 27 March 2012 on charges of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions, and harming the interests of the country by allegedly mocking the rulers of two countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and publishing false news abroad through his mobile phone via Twitter.
Al- Naqi denied all charges and stated that his twitter account had been hacked. His mobile records were searched and it was confirmed that he did not use Twitter from the mobile. However, security forces claimed that he has another mobile in his possession which he had used to access a Twitter account.
According to his lawyer, the 10 year sentence is the maximum penalty prescribed by law in these cases. He added that the Al-Naqi’s confessions should have not been considered as they were extracted forcibly under torture.
On 18 April 2012, Al-Naqi was stabbed in his neck inside the Kuwait Central prison by another prisoner who had apparently objected to what Al-Naqi had written. According to Al-Naqi’s lawyer, the incident took place after the prison’s administration spread the news that Al-Naqi had insulted the Prophet.
Kuwait has had the highest rate of imprisonments in cases of free expression in the Arab world in the past year, notably the cases of Lawrence al-Rasheed who was sentenced to ten years for insulting the Emir of Kuwait in a poem, and Mohamed el-Melify, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison for spreading false statements via Twitter.
· IFEX (5 June 2012): http://www.ifex.org/kuwait/2012/06/08/alnaqi_sentenced/
Please send appeals:
– Protesting the detention of blogger Hamad Al-naqi solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression;
– Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kuwait is a signatory;
– Expressing grave concerns for the safety of blogger Mohammed Hamad Al-Naqi following reports that he was attacked in prison;
– Seeking guarantees that he will be protected while in detention as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kuwait is a signatory.
You can also send appeals to:
His Highness Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah
Fax: +965 539 3069
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Jamal Al-Shihab
Fax: +965 243 3750
Minister of Interior
His Excellency Chieck Ahmad Al-Hammoud
Ministry of Interior
Fax: +965 243 6570
If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Kuwait in your country.
PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. Our campaigns, events, publications and programmes aim to connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world.
For further information please contact Ghias Aljundi at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: Ghias.Aljundi@pen-international.org