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8 men arrested on charges of attempting to undermine regime released

By Rana Husseini - Feb 07,2017 - Last updated at Feb 07,2017

AMMAN — Eight men who were arrested in mid-January on charges of attempting to undermine the regime were released on bail on Wednesday by the State Security Court (SSC) prosecution, one of their lawyers said.

The indictees, who include a former MP and a retired senior General Intelligence Department (GID) officer, were detained by security forces on January 12.

The eight were identified as former MP Wasfi Rawashdeh, retired GID Maj. Gen. Mohammad Otoum, Omar Assoufi, Hussam Abdullat, Abdulrahman Dweiri, Falah Khalaileh, Qaisar Muheisen and Khalid Fuqara.

“They were all released on a JD1,000 bail each on Tuesday evening and are back with their families,” lawyer Abed Al Kader Khateeb, one of several attorneys representing the suspects, said.

Khateeb told The Jordan Times the defence team hopes that “the state will close the case for our clients, because they were only expressing their views regarding citizens and their living conditions, and none of them ever aimed to undermine the regime”.

A senior official had told The Jordan Times shortly after the men were detained that the suspects “used social media, including Facebook, to spread statements of incitement targeting public opinion and ones that would have a negative impact on society”.

Prime Minister Hani Mulki had said the arrests were “purely judicial procedures in accordance with due process”.

The premier told lawmakers that their fate will be decided by the “just and neutral Jordanian judiciary”, stressing that the charges have nothing to do with freedom of expression.

The prime minister said the government “respects freedom of expression, as long as it is exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law and does not compromise higher national interests”.

The arrest of the suspects, however, drew criticism from civil society and MPs.

Also on Tuesday, security forces released Essam Alzaben, 48, one of the founding members of a Facebook page that called for boycotting table eggs and potatoes.

Alzaben, a retired major in the air force, had been arrested by security forces while at his home in Northern Marka on February 1 over alleged statements made on Facebook that attacked the regime and the state.

“My client was released today and no official charges were pressed against him,” lawyer Taher Nasser said.

He was released without posting a bail, Nasser told The Jordan Times.

In remarks last week, the lawyer said “someone else, who was an admin on the Facebook page posted harmful statements claiming they were by my client because this person did not like the success and popularity of my client’s page”.

 

The Facebook page, which closed the following day after Alzaben was arrested, was titled the Jordanian Boycott Campaign. It was run by 14 administrators and followed by around 1.3 million Facebook users.

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