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Authorities complete release of 91 protesters

By Taylor Luck - Dec 17,2012 - Last updated at Dec 17,2012

AMMAN — Authorities have finalised the release of 91 jailed protesters, officials announced on Monday, vowing to free the remaining detained activists in line with Royal directives.

With Monday’s release on bail of 10 citizens arrested for their alleged role in violent protests over fuel prices last month, authorities have finalised the release of 91 of 116 demonstrators, according to Brigadier General Muhannad Hijazi, prosecutor general of the military State Security Court.

In a statement to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, on Monday, Hijazi underlined that officials will release an additional 10 protesters on Tuesday in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s orders last week.

The release of the remaining 15 activists has been delayed pending investigation into their alleged role in vandalism, looting and destruction of public property during last month’s fuel riots, Hijazi noted.

According to activists, the recently released detainees are in “high spirits” after being reunited with their families and remain eager to return to political activism.

“The freed detainees are in good health; they are glad to be home and are ready to return to the streets,” said Mamoun Harassees, defence attorney for dozens of the protesters.

The arrests were made on the backdrop of a series of violent protests that erupted within hours of a government decision to remove fuel subsidies on November 13.

The government has stressed its commitment to taking “all the necessary procedures” to release the detainees, with officials pledging to finalise the releases by the end of this week.

Last month, authorities referred some 120 of 300 citizens arrested in connection with the protests to the State Security Court, where they had faced charges of “illegal gathering”, slandering the King and “undermining the political regime”.

Among the detainees were 46 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s largest opposition movement, including Eyad Abu Hattab, a senior leader of the Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front political party.

The security crackdown sparked criticism from international rights groups, who accused Amman of arresting nine minors and criticised authorities for trying civilians at the State Security Court, a military tribunal reserved for national security threats, among extremely serious crimes.

The fate of the detainees also sparked near daily protests across the country, with activists most recently hitting the streets in demonstrations across Jordan on Friday in a bid to push for their immediate release.

The government has defended its response to the often violent protests, which, in their first 72 hours, led to over 70 injuries and the deaths of one citizen and two policemen. 

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