Kuwait court keeps pro-opposition television off the air

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Kuwait’s lower court rejected a petition by pro-opposition private television channel Al-Youm on Wednesday against its closure by the government last month, the channel’s lawyer said.

“We have not seen the reasons for the court’s ruling. We plan to file an appeal against the verdict in the coming few days,” Nawaf Sari told AFP.

The information ministry ordered the station taken off the air on December 20 citing administrative irregularities. It also withdrew the station’s license.

The ministry later explained that the station had failed to meet a two-month deadline to appoint a full-time Kuwaiti manager.

Sari described the ministry’s decision as “politically motivated” and the pretext as baseless.

“Al-Youm is the only television station that promotes opinions opposed to the government ... and the ministry found the opportunity to shut down the station by citing untrue administrative violations,” he said.

The station has broadcast programs sympathetic to the opposition and interviewed many of its leaders in the run-up to a December 1 parliamentary election it boycotted.

Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition groups, angry over an amended electoral law they said was designed to produce a rubber-stamp assembly, have since been holding almost nightly protests demanding the dissolution of the new parliament.

Riot police have repeatedly used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrators.