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Kuwait court jails journalist who criticised PM

Kuwait¿s lower court sentences leading writer and journalist Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem to one year in prison for writing an article deemed highly critical of the prime minister.

Kuwait's lower court today sentenced leading writer and journalist Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem to one year in prison for writing an article deemed highly critical of the prime minister, his lawyer Abdullah al-Ahmad said.

The article, posted on Jassem's website a year ago, charges that Iranian intelligence was interfering in Kuwait's affairs through a leading businessman close to Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Jassem in the article identified the businessman only as "M" and described him as a Kuwaiti citizen of Iranian origin.

The writer said he believed the case, lodged by the prime minister, to be politically-motivated and said he would take it to the appeals court.

"This is a political case. The prime minister has been trying for some time to suppress freedom of speech," Jassem said.

In its ruling, the misdemeanours court said the jail sentence is effective immediately, which means the writer will be imprisoned until the decision of the appeals court.

"I am ready to go to jail whenever they call me," Jassem said.

He denied that he had accused the prime minister of collaborating with Iranian intelligence.

In April, the same court sentenced Jassem, who is also a lawyer, to six months in jail for allegedly slandering the prime minister at a public rally, but the appeals court overturned the sentence three months later.

Jassem is also facing several other cases, mostly filed by the prime minister alleging slander.

In May, he was arrested and detained for 49 days on state security charges that he had undermined the status of the emir and harmed national interests.

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