By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Monday, December 20, 2010
KUWAIT CITY: A prominent Kuwaiti academic, Obaid al-Wasmi, has been detained on suspicion of undermining the status of the emir, his lawyer said Sunday.
“The public attorney ordered professor Wasmi to be detained for 21 days in central prison pending further investigation,” Al-Humaidi al-Subaie told AFP.
Wasmi, a professor of law at Kuwait University and a well-known constitutional expert, was arrested last week after giving a speech at a public gathering organized by the opposition and dispersed with force by the police.
During the gathering, police dragged Wasmi out of the house where the gathering was held and beat him with batons and kicked him as he lay on the ground, the lawyer said.
Wasmi is being questioned on accusations of spreading false news abroad, participating in a public gathering with the intention of committing a crime and undermining the status of the emir, the lawyer said.
He is also facing a charge of instigating the armed forces to disobey orders.
Humaidi said the charges have been challenged by the defense lawyers during the interrogation.
“The public attorney turned down a request by the defense team to free Wasmi on bail since he is a well-known personality and a senior academic,” he said.
International human rights organizations have criticized Kuwait for using force in order to prevent public gatherings by the opposition.
Also Sunday, Gulf human rights activists and academics condemned a crackdown conducted by Kuwaiti police earlier this month on a public gathering for the opposition.
“We express our regret and condemn the excessive use of force against citizens and MPs” which threatened Kuwait’s status as “an advanced example” of democracy for the region, said a statement signed by 52 activists.
“As Gulf intellectuals, we regret the retreat in democratic reforms and human rights in the Gulf Cooperation Council states and many Arab countries,” it said.
Kuwaiti special forces on December 8 used batons to disperse the gathering organized by the opposition to protest what they said was a government plot to amend the 1962 Constitution in order to suppress public freedoms.
At least four opposition lawmakers as well as a dozen others were hurt at the time, with some of them requiring hospital treatment.
In their statement, the activists also deplored the Kuwaiti government’s “policy of suppressing media coverage” and the closure of the Doha-based pan-Arab satellite Al-Jazeera news channel for covering the police action.
Among those who signed the statement were Kuwaiti writer Anwar al-Rasheed and Saudi rights activists Ali al-Dumaini and Najeeb al-Khunaizi, in addition to others from Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. – AFP