Kuwait revokes citizenship of opposition figure, 17 others

Some of those who lost their citizenship had been naturalized on the basis of fake documents, others had dual citizenship

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The Kuwaiti government said it revoked the citizenship of 18 people on Monday, including a prominent opposition figure, citing irregularities in granting them their nationality.

According to a statement, some of those who lost their citizenship had been naturalized on the basis of fake documents, others had dual citizenship, which is outlawed, and others had the status revoked for security reasons.

Among them was Saad al-Ajmi, spokesman of the Popular Action Movement, a nationalist opposition group headed by former veteran MPs Ahmad al-Saadun and Mussallam al-Barrak.

Before joining the group, Ajmi served for several years as the Kuwaiti correspondent of Al-Arabiya satellite television.

In comments on Twitter, activists blasted the decision as a means of silencing the opposition which last week described similar government action as totally illegal.

Since July, the Gulf state has revoked the citizenship of 30 people and their family members, including the owner of a pro-opposition television station and a newspaper, a former Islamist opposition MP and a senior Islamist cleric.

A Kuwaiti court on Thursday declined to rule in the case of the citizenship of the owner of Al-Youm television Ahmad Jabr al-Shemmari, saying the issue was outside its jurisdiction.

Shemmari's lawyer challenged the citizenship withdrawal at the administrative court, saying it violated the constitution because Shemmari was a Kuwaiti by birth.

The decision is not final as it can still be challenged before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Human Rights Watch at the time denounced the action as a "crackdown on people seeking reform" in Kuwait, which unlike other Gulf states has a democratically elected parliament.

"No government has the right to strip away its people's citizenship simply because it disapproves of them, their opinions, or their actions," said the New York-based watchdog.

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