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Kuwait strips citizenship of ex-lawmaker, others

July 21, 2014

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait’s government stripped five people of their citizenship Monday, including the owner of an independent newspaper and television station as well as a former opposition lawmaker.

The official Kuwait News Agency announced the decision by Kuwait’s Cabinet, which approved a draft decree to revoke the five’s citizenship. The state news agency did not give a reason for the Cabinet’s decision.

A human rights lawyer in Kuwait said it was the first time he had heard of the government revoking citizenships without a court order.

Among those named in the decision is former Islamist opposition lawmaker Abdullah al-Barghash, including two of his brothers and a sister.

The government also revoked the citizenship of Ahmad al-Shemmeri, owner of the independent Al-Youm television station and Alam Al-Yawm newspaper. His newspaper was ordered temporarily shut down twice this year by a court for defying a prosecutor-ordered media blackout about an investigation into a coup plot to overthrow the Gulf monarchy’s government.

None of those whose citizenship was revoked could be immediately reached for comment.

The decision comes amid heightened tension in the U.S.-allied Arab country. The Cabinet recently ordered the Interior Ministry to review the citizenship of people who undermine or threaten the country’s stability. Kuwait’s opposition denounced the move and said its aim is to suppress the opposition.

Kuwait has the most politically empowered parliament among the Gulf Arab states, with opposition lawmakers often directly challenging government officials over corruption and power abuses. Parts of the capital were rocked by brief anti-corruption protests earlier this month.

Human rights activist and lawyer Mohammad al-Humaidi said he has only heard of incidents where Kuwaitis were stripped of their citizenship on charges of high treason, or in cases where they were already dual passport holders.

“There are still no reasons as to why this has happened,” al-Humaidi said. “Many lawyers and I believe that this goes against articles of the Kuwaiti constitution as well as the universal declaration of human rights.”

It is not clear what happens next to the five since they cannot appeal the decision, al-Humaidi said. The five will lose their rights to government jobs, benefits and voting. It is unclear whether they will be allowed to reside in Kuwait.

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