Manama: Kuwait’s Public Prosecutor has ordered a gag on publishing news or comments related to five state security cases.
The cases include membership in an outlawed group, harbouring individuals convicted by a court of law, and assisting convicts to evade justice.
The prosecutor said in a statement that the coverage given in print, visual and audio media as well as on social media that included the mention of names was hampering the progress of the investigations and harming national interests.
The gag applies to all forms of media and preserves the secrecy of the investigations, the statement said.
The Abdali case, in reference to a place where stored weapons and explosives, were found, has been the hottest issue in Kuwait this summer and has deeply impacted relations between the northern Arabian Gulf state and Iran. It also sparked heated debates on social media dominated by speculations, accusations and counter-accusations.
The case came in the open on August 15, 2015 when Kuwait’s Interior Ministry said that it busted a terrorist cell and uncovered a large cache of arms, ammunitions and explosives hidden underground at a farm in Abdali. The cache contained 24 hand grenades, 65 guns, 56 RPGs and 144kg of bomb-making material.
On September 1, 2015, the public prosecution said 26 defendants, including one Iranian, would stand trial for the possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and espionage for Iran and Hezbollah.
The trial sessions went through three levels of courts and concluded in June when the Cassation Court, the highest court in the country, cancelled the acquittal of defendants by the Court of Appeals and sentenced two to 15 years in prison, 15 to 10 years and three to five years.
However, the convicts who were not at the court when the final sentence was pronounced had disappeared, prompting the state security agencies to launch a massive manhunt to locate them.