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Kuwait shuts pro-opposition TV, newspaper Licences revoked

KUWAIT CITY, July 23, (AFP): Kuwait said it revoked the licences of pro-opposition Al-Youm television and Alam Al-Youm newspaper and ordered them to shut down immediately on Tuesday. The information ministry said in a statement that the licences of the two media outlets had been revoked “for losing some of the terms and conditions for obtaining a licence”. Al-Youm confirmed it had received the closure notice.

“We received a letter from the information ministry stating that the licence of the channel has been revoked and we must stop immediately,” a source at the station told AFP, requesting anonymity. The channel went off the air after receiving the order. The decision comes a day after the government revoked the citizenship of the owner of the outlets, Ahmad Jabr al-Shemmari, in what appears to be one of the strongest crackdowns on dissent in the country in recent years.
 
Under Kuwait’s law, the nationality of the owner of all media organisations must be Kuwaiti. The channel and the newspaper have been covering the news of the Kuwaiti opposition more extensively than others. In its decisions on Monday, the cabinet also revoked the citizenship of former Islamist opposition MP Abdullah al-Barghash, two of his brothers and a sister along with their family members. The measures come a week after the government ordered a review of the citizenship of people who posed a threat to national security following violent protests over the arrest of prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak for allegedly criticising the judiciary.
 
OPEC member Kuwait has a native population of 1.25 million, a large number of them through naturalisation, and hosts 2.8 million foreigners. Unlike other Gulf states, it has a democratically-elected parliament and has been tolerant to freedom of speech. 
 
Since mid-2006, Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises, leading to parliament being dissolved six times. Most opposition groups are not represented in Kuwait’s parliament after having boycotted July 2013 polls in protest at an amended electoral law.

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