DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait has banned several television news channels from airing programs about an investigation into a recording that discusses an alleged plot against the ruling system, state news agency KUNA reported on Wednesday.
The Information Ministry also said it had referred several newspapers to the public prosecutor for violating a news blackout imposed over the affair that has prompted rare online gossip about possible frictions inside the ruling family.
In April, Kuwait imposed a ban on reporting on an investigation into the recording, saying that media coverage was damaging to the country.
By its nature, few concrete details about the alleged plot have emerged. Social media have been full of comments, with some suggesting that the case could damage relations inside the ruling family.
"(The ministry), after informing the attorney general, has contacted a number of television stations to stop programs for four days starting today for including data and information related to the investigation being made by the general prosecution in the case number 1241 of 2013...," KUNA said.
The editor-in-chief of the Arabic-language al-Watan said the newspaper had not been notified about any decision to refer it to the public prosecution but confirmed that a TV station that is part of the same group had been ordered not to air two news broadcasts.
The editor, Sheikh Khalifa Ali al-Khalifa al-Sabah, told Reuters the TV station planned to abide by the ministry's order but would file an appeal on Thursday.
Asked if the case was linked to the alleged recording, Sheikh Khalifa said: "It seems so."
Al-Watan reported on its website on Tuesday that Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, a ruling family member, had given Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, another family member, 10 days to disclose details about companies that had been hired to transcribe the recording and its content, before starting possible legal action.
The prime minister's office expressed surprise at the warning and said that materials related to the case have been handed over to the public prosecution.
A judge suspended two newspapers in April for two weeks after they published stories about the recording.
Kuwait's courts do not comment to the media about cases.
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)