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Kuwait’s Al Watan reduces staff pending court decision
June 11, 2015, 10:35 am

Kuwaiti daily Al Watan has reportedly dismissed its print staff and reduced the number of webteam employees running its online edition. The daily told the editors and personnel that they would be given their financial dues following the decision of the Court of Cassation currently looking into a lower court decision to shut down the paper.

The editor has handed in his resignation and has joined another daily in Kuwait City as a consultant, local news site Al Aan reported on Wednesday.

Al Watan’s local woes started in January when the Ministry of Commerce shut down the privately-owned publishing house responsible for issuing the daily, citing corporate violations.

Reports said that the financial losses were estimated to be more than three quarters of the publishing house’s capital.

Al Watan attributed the decision to close it down to politically-driven motives, particularly that its stances were often critical of the government.

However, the government rejected the claims, insisting that it was applying the law and that there were no political reasons involved.

“People want the government to apply the law, but some of them are quick to claim that we are politicizing issues,” Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah, the state minister for cabinet affairs, said in January.

The Administrative Court in February upheld the decision by the ministry to shut down the daily, explaining that the closure was not related to freedom of expression.

Al Watan, owned by Shaikh Ali Al Khalifa Al Adhbi Al Sabah, was first published on June 5, 1962 as a weekly. However, it became a daily on January 17, 1974.

In April of last year, a Kuwaiti court ordered the suspension of Al Watan and Alam Al Yawm newspapers for two weeks for breaking a media blackout ordered by prosecutors on a videotape featuring government officials allegedly plotting a coup in Kuwait.

This month, the Ministry of Information canceled the licenses of three television channels Al Watan, Al Watan Plus and Al Watan Ghanawi channels operated by the media group that owns the daily.

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