KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait has deported a prominent activist to Saudi Arabia after withdrawing his Kuwaiti citizenship last year, local media reported, a move he and other opposition figures said was politically motivated.
The Kuwaiti government last year ordered a crackdown on people suspected of trying to “undermine the stability” of the oil exporter. The move was part of an “iron fist” policy adopted by the government following protests after the arrest of prominent opposition politician Musallam al-Barrak.The Arabic-language al-Rai newspaper reported on Wednesday that Saad al-Ajmi, spokesman for the Popular Action Movement (PAM) and a former correspondent for the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel, was detained on Tuesday and deported.
PAM politicians dominated parliament before 2012, but the group was among several political associations that boycotted national elections three years ago to protest against changes to election laws seen as favoring candidates from other parties.
A Kuwaiti security source said Ajmi was sent to Saudi Arabia after his documents showed he was a native Saudi national.
Saudi officials declined to comment on the deportation.
The Kuwait Democratic Forum, a group of leftist and nationalist activists, which like Ajmi’s movement wants political and economic reforms, said his deportation showed a “constitutionally unacceptable approach” by the government in targeting political activists.
“The latest (of these measures) was related to activist Saad al-Ajmi, who, and others, were not accorded the legal guarantees which shows a major disorder of the authority’s management of the state,” it said in a statement.
Barrak called for a meeting on Thursday to discuss Ajmi’s deportation, local news website alaa.cc said.
Born in Kuwait, Ajmi, was one of 18 people to have their citizenship withdrawn by authorities last year.
Some of them had obtained Kuwaiti citizenship unlawfully, the state news agency said at the time, but in Ajmi’s case and that of six others, the reasons were unclear.
Ajmi said then that stripping him of his citizenship was part of a government crackdown on political activists deemed by the state to be endangering its stability.
Kuwait allows more political freedom than other Gulf Arab states, with relatively free media and an elected parliament, but local laws ban public gatherings of more than 20 people without a permit.
Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy, Mahmoud Harbi and Amena Bakr; Writing by Sami Aboudi