Kuwaiti Lawmaker Jailed after Criticizing Saudi Arabia on Yemen, Bahrain
A Kuwaiti lawmaker has been sentenced to jail after a defamation lawsuit was filed against him by the Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Kuwait.
The news was reported by Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas, who said that Abdul Hamid Dashti – an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Bahrain and Yemen – was handed the 10 day sentence in absentia, pending investigations into defamation of the Saudi state, according to The New Arab on Sunday.
The time in detention will begin once – or indeed if – his international arrest warrant is successful in bringing him into custody.
It was reported that the short detention handed to Dashti was of a preliminary nature, with the latter facing a heftier sentence if found guilty by Kuwait’s highest criminal court.
Dashti provoked anger from Riyadh for his open criticism of its involvement in Bahrain’s brutal crackdown of opposition activists since 2011 and the Saudi-led coalition’s excesses in Yemen’s war.
As a close ally of Riyadh, Kuwait has cooperated with its neighbor in closing down on Dashti, continuing a policy of punishing individuals who threaten its ties with other countries.
Previously, the Kuwaiti parliamentarian was sentenced to two years in custody in absentia for illegal fundraising by a Bahraini court.
Dashti’s parliamentary immunity was also revoked by Kuwait’s National Assembly last March, and it is claimed that the lawmaker has been moving between Syria and Switzerland in order to dodge the international arrest warrant against him that was issued in his home country.
A well-known sympathizer of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Dashti blamed Saudi Arabia for supporting terrorism in Syria. Riyadh, meanwhile, has been one of the leading supporters of the Syrian militants in the country’s civil war.
Kuwait is widely viewed as having one of the most “free” political systems is the Persian Gulf region, with an elected parliament that has comparatively wide-reaching powers compared to other PGCC states.
However, since the Arab uprising began in late 2010, Kuwait has clamped down on freedom of speech and used its constitution and security laws to stifle political dissent, according to Human Rights Watch.