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One of administrators of Facebook page calling for boycotts detained

By Rana Husseini - Feb 01,2017 - Last updated at Feb 01,2017

AMMAN — One of the founding members of a Facebook page that called for boycotting table eggs and potatoes was arrested by security forces on Wednesday over statements made on Facebook, lawyers and activists said on Wednesday.

Essam Alzaben, 48, a retired major in the air force, was reportedly arrested by security forces while at his home in Northern Marka early on Wednesday morning, according to his lawyer, Taher Nasser.

“The authorities are accusing Alzaben of posting material that aimed at attacking the state and the regime, but he was not the one posting these statements,” Nasser told The Jordan Times.

The lawyer claimed that “someone who did not like the success of my client with this page encouraged one of the administrators of the Facebook campaign page who had my client’s personal account’s password to post these statements on his behalf”.

“My client started a page that became very popular and was only doing his national duty by fighting the increase in prices. But it seems someone did not like what he was doing and decided to post harmful material on his Facebook page to ruin his cause,” Nasser added.

The Facebook page, titled the Jordanian Boycott Campaign, is a public page whereby anyone can add his or her friends or invite them to like the page. 

It is run by 14 administrators and followed by around 1.3 million Facebook users.

Fadi Amro, a social activist and one of the organisers of the boycott campaign on social media outlets, including the boycott page on Facebook, denounced Alzaben’s actions saying it does not comply with the campaign’s goals.

“We opened the page to protest the increase in prices, especially eggs and potatoes, and we refuse any affiliation with anyone who has other agendas,” Amro told The Jordan Times.

Amro added that “although Alzaben was posting political statements on his Facebook account and did not use the campaign’s page on Facebook, we refuse such acts and would not allow it on our page”.

He added that the admins on the page are closely monitoring what is being posted there “and if we feel that people will use it for political reasons or post inappropriate material, we will be forced to close it down because this is not our objective”.

“We are a peaceful movement that is addressing social and economic issues in our society, and surely we will not allow ourselves to be an outlet for anyone with certain political agendas,” Amro said.

Ibrahim Hayek, from the public freedoms committee at the Jordan Bar Association, told The Jordan Times that “the committee will not interfere in this case because the detainee offended the state”.

“The detained individual allegedly committed a crime that is not related to freedom of expression, and our role as a committee is to defend people who are arrested because of freedom of expression,” Hayek told The Jordan Times.

He added that the freedoms committee also intervenes “when there are torture allegations or when a person is denied a lawyer or visitations by his or her family”.

From what was posted on social media, Hayek added, “Alzaben seemed to have allegedly posted statements that were not related to the main cause that people are fighting for, but rather attacking the state, the regime and calling for a revolution”.

“He was arrested for allegedly committing a crime and not for fighting for freedom of expression, and this is surely not part of our role as a freedoms’ committee,” Hayek added.

 

Public Security Department Spokesperson Lt. Col. Amer Sartawi refused to comment to The Jordan Times on the matter, saying the case “is in the hands of security forces”.

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