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Authorities release 50 jailed protesters

By Taylor Luck - Dec 11,2012 - Last updated at Dec 11,2012

AMMAN — Fifty detained protesters were released on Tuesday following a month-long imprisonment.

According to defence attorney Mamoun Harassis, the State Security Court (SSC) released 51 of 116 protesters detained during demonstrations against fuel price hikes last month in line with Royal directives.

“The freed detainees are in good health and are currently celebrating their release with their friends and families,” Harassis told The Jordan Times.

Activists expect the remaining detainees to be released by early Thursday.

Late Monday, His Majesty King Abdullah directed the government to release those detained during their participation in a series of nationwide protests, which at times led to riots and acts of vandalism.

The decision excludes 13 detainees facing charges of vandalism and “criminal conspiracy” for their role in the protests that resulted in widespread damage of public property, over 70 injuries and the deaths of one citizen and two policemen.

The government has vowed to “take all legal actions” to fulfil the Royal directives, underlying its respect for citizens’ “constitutional and human rights” to peaceful expression of opinion and public assembly.

Authorities arrested some 300 citizens for their participation in the November protests; 120 of the protesters were referred to the SSC, where they faced charges of “illegal assembly”, slandering the King and “undermining the political regime” — offences that would have earned each detainee up to 10 years in prison.

The arrests drew criticism from international rights groups, who decried the trial of civilians at the SSC.

In a statement on Tuesday, London-based Amnesty International called for investigations into allegations that the some of the detainees had been “subject to beatings, denied adequate medical treatment and refused access to lawyers and family members” during their imprisonment.

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