Jordanian journalist detained for three years over Facebook-post dies

Jordanian journalist Taysir al-Najjar, detained for three years by UAE over Gaza Facebook post, dies
2 min read
19 February, 2021
The 46-year-old had developed illnesses during a jail sentence in the UAE for posting about the country's involvement in the war on Gaza in 2014
Jordanian journalist and poet Taysir Al-Najjar's imprisonment contributed to his untimely death [Facebook]

Jordanian journalist and poet Taysir Al-Najjar died on Thursday night following the deterioration of his health after he served a prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates between 2016 and 2019.

The 46-year-old intellectual had been jailed after posting on Facebook about the UAE role in the war on Gaza in 2014. He was arrested at Abu Dhabi airport while preparing to travel to Amman on December 13, 2015.

The UAE's Supreme Court prosecuted al-Najjar for breaching a state law against “information technology crimes.” He was sentenced to three years in jail and ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 dirhams (US$136,000) in March 2017 for "insulting state symbols," which he was later exempted from.

Al-Najjar developed several illnesses while held at the Al Wathba Desert Prison, according to his wife Majida Al-Hourani. He suffered from regular migraines and had lost his hearing in one ear, in addition to other health problems.

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Najjar was a contributor to the Arabic edition of The New Arab. In March 2019, he wrote “A Message to Freedom,” in which he shared his thoughts about his time in detention. 

“The prison still accompanies me,” he wrote, examining “the deep meaning of the words that have become the fate of every human [in the Arab world]: oppression, tyranny, injustice.”

He talked about how, once a prisoner, a person is accompanied by the memories of incarceration for the rest of thaeir life. Those who do not share this experience, he said, do not know the freedom that lies in the movement of a body, and “how the jailer masters it."

Journalist Bilal Al-Aqayleh wrote that al-Najjar has bid life farewell “leaving grief and pain in the souls of his colleagues and loved ones.”

The writer Fadi Al-Qadi said in a tweet that “Al-Najjar is under the protection of God. He died in the early hours of the dawn fighting disease and fatigue inherited from an unjust prison sentence the Emirates.”

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