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Jordan authorities arrest veteran dissident after publication of memoir

The arrest of Ahmed al-Abadi has sparked fears of a wider crackdown in Jordan [Twitter]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2020

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Former Jordanian MP Ahmed Owaidi Al-Abadi has been detained despite his ill health, the latest in a series of arrests of outspoken dissidents by Jordan's authorities.
Jordanian security forces on Tuesday arrested former opposition MP Ahmed Owaidi Al-Abadi, according to a video released by his son.

Nami Al-Abadi described his father's arrest as a "kidnapping operation" by state security.

Al-Abadi added that he holds authorities wholly responsible for the health of his father, who is in his seventies and suffers from heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

He added that his father's recent publication of his memoirs could be the reason behind his arrest, however no official reason or charge was given for his detention.

Ahmed Al-Abadi is a renowned opposition figure in Jordan, known for his vocal criticism of the royal family.

A former colonel in the army, Al-Abadi holds a PhD from Cambridge University. After his tenure as an MP he spent the past five years conducting research and writing, according to his son.

Also on Tuesday, security forces arrested fellow opposition activist Sabri Al-Adayleh, prompting fears of a widespread crackdown on dissent.

Read more: Coronavirus Pandemic: Positive stories of resilience and bravery from the Middle East this week

In April, authorities arrested two TV executives for airing a news segment in which labourers voiced complaints about being out of work due to the government-imposed lockdown, enacted to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Human Rights Watch in January voiced concerns over Jordan's crackdown on free speech following a number of arrests of political activists and anti-government protesters.

"Jordan increasingly closed avenues for public protests and online expression in 2019," said Michael Page, HRW's deputy Middle East director.

"Jordanian officials and lawmakers should make it a priority in 2020 to remove vague criminal regulations used to curtail peaceful speech."

Speech deemed critical of the king, foreign countries, government officials and institutions, Islam and Christianity, are all outlawed in Jordan.


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