Reuters is reporting that Kuwaiti journalist Zayed al-Zaid was physically attacked and wounded after leaving a transparency summit earlier this week. (Global Integrity later was told Zaid had actually been at headquarters of a political movement prior to the attack.) Zaid is the editor of an online news source known for its corruption-focused investigative reporting and at least one of his colleagues is assuming the attack was politically motivated. While Global Integrity’s Kuwaiti reporter, Salwa Al-Saeed says it’s premature to jump to conclusions, she is concerned with the impact this incident could have on the potential for investigative journalism in her country.
Earlier today, we were able to speak with reporter Salwa Al-Saeed, a contributor to the 2008 Corruption Notebooks as well as a friend and former colleague of Zaid. Salwa confirmed that Zaid was known for “bringing corruption stories to the public.” Recently, he had been working on a story investigating levels of discretion in the awarding of government contracts to private-sector electricity providers.
Salwa was reluctant to point any fingers for the attack saying the investigation by the Ministry of the Interior is underway. She did tell us that the Prime Minister had visited Zaid in the hospital. Salwa saw this to be a “good sign.” Hopefully it marks true political commitment to the investigation.
Based on the Global Integrity Report: 2008, the police are known to be heavily influenced by politicians and therefore a top-political ally could speed-up the investigation (or taint it). As Salwa concedes, it is too soon to tell, but this case might provide a watershed moment for press freedom and journalist protection in Kuwait.
Global advocates the Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International have not yet produced reports on this particular incident, but watch their websites for more details as the investigation progresses.
— Norah Mallaney