17 February 2014
Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz, also known as "Ben Baz," has been released from prison in Kuwait where he was held (but never tried) on charges of blasphemy for over a year.
Albaz, a 27-year-old Egyptian atheist blogger, was arrested in early January 2013 by Kuwaiti authorities. While Albaz had been known for posting on his blog stories of the relationship between religion, the State and secularism. The Constitution of Kuwait makes Islam the state religion, and considers Sharia a primary source of legislation. The Kuwaiti parliament passed a law in 2012 introducing the death penalty for Muslims who blaspheme against Islam, while non-Muslims who blaspheme faced ten years or more in prison. The law provides that any Muslim(!) citizen may file a complaint against an author if the citizen believes that the author has defamed Islam, the ruling family, or public morals.
A hearing on Albaz' case had been scheduled for last February 28, but it's unclear what was decided at the hearing or even whether the hearing actually occurred. After a year, Kuwaiti authorities have apparently let him out on his own recognizance - of course, long after he would have lost his job and probably his residence, and without any due process
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