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Kuwaiti Government Official Condemns Twitter

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[The following statement was issued by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information on 13 August 2012.] 

ANHRI denounced  the statements of the Under Secretary of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information (Suleiman Hamoud), in which he attacked the use of the social network website Twitter, saying that it is being used by hostile countries to spread discord in the Gulf countries in general and in Kuwait in particular.

Hamoud said the following in a press statement: Parties hostile to the Gulf states and Kuwait exploit social network websites, especially Twitter, for the “[purpose of] instability [by] spreading discord, threatening national unity and [the] national fabric." He stressed that the social networks of Facebook and Twitter were not regulated in a legal and technical capacity very well yet. Therefore, there is uncertainty about the source of the information published through them, where fake accounts work in favor of hostile parties targeting Kuwait and the Gulf states by spreading false information about matters in Kuwait through “dummy accounts."

The Under Secretary of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information declared that he was taking technical and organizational measures to deal with the dummy accounts, combat terrorism, saboteurs and organized crime through these networks by modernizing laws that related to visual and auditory media, publications and resales, pointing out that the Ministry of Communications monitors Twitter very well.

It should be noted that Kuwait has a poor record in dealing with Twitter users, as it has issued several unfair court rulings against citizens as a punishment for their posts on Twitter. It handed down a ten-year prison sentence to the blogger “Hamad purified,” claiming that he insulted God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It also sentenced the blogger “Nasser Apple,” who was convicted of “contempt of Sunnis,” to three months in prison, and also sentenced the activist Mubarak Albatally to three months in prison for “contempt of Shiites” on the same website.

ANHRI said that “social networks always annoy the repressive governments in the region because they provide a space for the expression of opinion despite severe restrictions imposed by these governments on the traditional media, which drives those governments to attack the Internet, and which we see as a motivation for the Kuwaiti authorities to continue in their hostility towards Twitter and try to demonize it as it plays a role in exposing human rights violations.”

ANHRI said that “the attack on Twitter, which does not allow the user to post more than 140 characters, shows how restrictive the Kuwaiti authorities are in dealing with free and critical views.”

ANHRI calls on Kuwaiti authorities to stop the campaign launched against Twitter and leave space for its users to express their views without questioning their intentions, and to desist from pursuing a policy of terrorizing web users. In particular, the claim that foreign forces are using Twitter has no logical basis, although the site allows all citizens in all countries of the world to create accounts and use it.

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