Al-Jazeera fined for insulting Kuwatis

Net sued after blaming citizens for 1990 invasion

BAGHDAD — Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera has been ordered by a Kuwaiti court to cough up 20,000 dinars ($73,000) for insulting the citizens of Kuwait in a program aired in 2002.

The satcaster was sued by four Kuwaiti lawyers after it beamed a program in which it said Kuwait and its people were responsible for the 1990 Iraqi invasion of their country.

“We filed the case as Kuwaiti citizens who thought that the channel’s management allowed insults and lies to be aired against our country,” said one of the lawyers, Mohammad Taleb.

The Kuwaiti court made its first instance ruling on Tuesday.

The lawyers had sought compensation of $219,000 after the court in an earlier verdict had ordered Al-Jazeera to pay less as “temporary” compensation.

That payment was made in 2005 when the Kuwaiti government allowed Al-Jazeera to reopen its office after a two and a half year closure.

Al-Jazeera has said it will appeal the new ruling, while Taleb and his colleagues also plan to appeal, saying the amount awarded is too small.

The court’s ruling will only be effective if confirmed by the courts of appeal and cassation.

Kuwait closed the satcaster’s offices in November 2002 in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, because it said the channel was hostile toward Kuwait.

The offices were reopened in May 2005 following an official visit to Kuwait by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.