Mob attacks Kuwait TV station over royal "insult"

KUWAIT (Reuters) - A crowd angry about a program they deemed insulting to some members of Kuwait’s ruling family stormed a Kuwaiti private television station Sunday, ransacking its offices, station officials said.

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“Some of them were armed with pistols and knives. They attacked the studio and damaged it and beat up the workers. About 10 were injured,” Mohammed Talal al-Saeed, executive manager of Scope TV, told Reuters.

Fajr al-Saeed, owner of the station, said she had received threats to her life after the talk show “Zain wa Shain” (“Good and Bad”) was aired Saturday.

Kuwaiti newspapers have said the Information Ministry has accused Fajr al-Saeed of attempting to overthrow the government with Scope’s satirical comedy show “Sawtak Wasal” (“Your Voice Has Been Heard”).

Fajr al-Saeed said the presenter of Saturday’s talk show had appeared to accuse a member of the ruling family who is a senior Information Ministry official of being behind the accusation.

She said Sunday’s attackers had been looking for her, the station manager or the program presenter, and added that the station had gone off the air after the attack.

A Reuters reporter saw broken windows and overturned desks at the station, which police had cordoned off. A witness, lawyer Saeed al-Yahya, said the mob had numbered at least 150 people.

An Interior Ministry spokesman could not be reached through his mobile phone and police at the scene declined to comment.

Kuwait, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, has a vibrant media culture and generally allows more press criticism of public officials than other Gulf Arab states.

But its ruler is protected from criticism by the constitution, and defamation cases against newspapers, writers and bloggers are common.

Reporting by Diana Elias and Eman Goma; writing by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Kevin Liffey