Kuwait Bails Government Critic, Pardons 3 Others


A Kuwaiti court granted bail on Thursday to Obaid al-Wasmi, an academic critical of the government, as the prime minister withdrew charges against three other critics, lawyers said.

"Today, I submitted a plea to the court to free my client, and Judge Adel al-Huwaidi accepted the request and ordered his release on $3,500 bail," Al-Humaidi al-Subaie told Agence France Presse.

Wasmi was arrested on December 11 on charges of undermining the status of the emir after he criticized the government at a public rally organized by the opposition three days earlier.

Justice Minister Rashed al-Hammad told the official KUNA news agency that the court had held the unscheduled bail hearing at the wishes of the emir, and decided to release Wasmi, a professor of law at Kuwait University.

Wasmi was charged with spreading false news abroad, taking part in a public gathering with criminal intent, and undermining the status of the emir. He was also charged with instigating the armed forces to disobey orders.

The surprise move came as Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah withdrew all charges he had filed against three other political activists who criticized him, his lawyer Emad al-Saif said.

The activists are leading writer and journalist, Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem, former secretary general of the liberal National Democratic Alliance, Khaled al-Fadhalah and columnist Mohammad al-Washeehi.