Jordan Charges Eight with Incitement against the Government for Social Media Posts

 

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Eight individuals have been charged with “insulting the King” and “incitement to spread chaos to undermine the political regime of Jordan using social media” in a Jordanian military court after publishing comments critical of the government. The General Intelligence Directorate (GID) arrested the individuals on the night of January 12 after a meeting at one of the detainee’s homes. Al Jazeera reports that, according to organizers, the meeting was convened to discuss “ways to facilitate reform and combat corruption in the public arena.” Among those detained is former Member of Parliament Wasfi al-Rawashdeh, who wrote a Facebook post decrying Jordan’s current economic struggles and whether King Abdallah is aware of them.

Lawyers for the arrested men reported that they were unable to meet their clients, and that their clients had been ordered to be held for an additional 14 days. Faisal al-Kuzae al-Frehat, who represents former GID General and one of the detained men, Mohamad al-Otoom, called the charges “trumped up… in order to try the activists in the state security court…which is an illegal military tribunal…used to settle scores against activists who dared criticize the government and demand reform.”

Ahmad al-Hajaya, a spokesman for the teacher’s syndicate, said, “The government uses [vague ‘anti-terrorism’] law as an instrument of repression, to stifle free speech as guaranteed by Jordan’s constitution.” Prime Minister Hani Mulqi told the press that, “Freedom of opinion and speech do not mean incitement or chaos.”

Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the detainees could either be released after possibly signing a pledge to stop their public activism or face prosecution. Since 2011, Jordanian authorities have prosecuted many political activists in the State Security Court under the vague charge of “undermining the political regime,” a provision within the country’s terrorism law.