Kuwait studies possible retreat from media law

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 25, 2013 at 10:26 am •  Published: April 25, 2013

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait put proposals to impose tough new media laws on hold Thursday after the country's prime minister suggested that objections from press groups and others could force the Gulf nation to scrap the plans.

Rights groups and media watchdogs have criticized the draft law, announced earlier this month, because it would impose possible penalties such as fines of nearly $1 million for insulting Kuwait's Western-backed emir. The proposals also would give authorities greater leeway to close and control websites and other online outlets.

A retreat would ease some pressure on Kuwait's government, but the country still faces criticism over a recent wave of arrests targeting bloggers and others. The media crackdown is part of similar steps across the Gulf Arab states to quell perceived dissent since the Arab Spring.

The official Kuwait News Agency quoted Prime Minister Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah as saying the proposals have been placed on hold and could be dropped as officials consider the opposition. The comments followed a meeting late Wednesday with Kuwaiti editors.

Hours earlier, the Committee to Protect Journalists had appealed for Kuwait to abandon the new codes, saying the steep fines could bankrupt media companies or force journalists to go to prison because they couldn't afford them.

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