Kuwait academic detained on security accusations

KUWAIT CITY- A prominent Kuwaiti academic, Obaid al-Wasmi, has been detained on suspicion of undermining the status of the emir, his lawyer said on 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 organised 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.
Al-Humaidi said the charges have been challenged by the defence lawyers during the interrogation.
"The public attorney turned down a request by the defence team to free Wasmi on bail since he is a well-known personality and a senior academic," he said.
International human rights groups have criticised Kuwait for using force to prevent public gatherings by the opposition.
Also Sunday, Gulf human rights activists and academics condemned a Kuwaiti police crackdown 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.
Kuwaiti special forces on December 8 used batons to disperse the gathering organised by the opposition to protest what they said was a government plot to amend the 1962 constitution in order to suppress public freedoms.

Sunday, December 19th 2010

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