Middle East

Kuwait orders news blackout over ‘coup’ tape court case

DUBAI: Kuwait has imposed a news blackout over an investigation into reports of a recording that allegedly reveals a plot to overthrow the Gulf state’s ruling system, state news agency KUNA said.

Kuwait’s public prosecutor opened a case in December after receiving a legal complaint that demanded an investigation into tweets about the recording.

The topic has featured extensively in local media and prompted a rare statement this week from the ruler’s office, which told people to stop discussing the case in order to preserve national unity.

A major OPEC oil producer and U.S. ally, Kuwait has a lively press and the most open political system in the Gulf region, thanks to its elected parliament. The 50-member assembly can question government ministers and block legislation, while the emir has the final say in state affairs.

The Attorney General ordered that the investigation be made secret and banned publishing any information on “the existence of a tape that contains information and statements implicating some people of conspiring to overthrow the ruling system in the country and challenge the rights and authority of his highness the emir,” according to the statement carried by KUNA.

The statement, published late Thursday, banned discussion of the case in any form, including news outlets and social media. Such rumors were damaging to the country’s interests, it claimed.

It said the prosecutor would inform media about the results of the case once the investigation was over, and came one day after the statement from the emir’s office.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, came to power in 2006 after his ailing predecessor stepped down.

Sheikh Sabah’s brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is next in line to become emir in Kuwait’s 250-year-old dynasty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 12, 2014, on page 10.




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