Jordan's Brotherhood deputy 'rejects court apology deal'

Jordan's Brotherhood deputy 'rejects court apology deal'
2 min read
18 December, 2014
Zaki Bani Arshid remains in custody after refusing to apologise to court over article that criticised UAE for branding his group a "terrorist organisation".
Arshid was arrested for criticising the UAE, a key ally of Jordan [Anadolu-Getty]

The deputy leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood has refused a court's offer to set him free if he apologised for criticising the UAE, according to his lawyers.

Zaki Bani Arshid was arrested on November 20 for a Facebook post that criticised the UAE for proscribing the Brotherhood and 82 other groups as terrorist organisations. Jordan charged him with "committing acts that would disturb Jordan's relations with foreign countries".

In his first appearance since his arrest, Arshid on Thursday stood before the state security court, effectively a military tribunal that operates behind closed doors.

In a brief statement to the court, the handcuffed Arshid said that he rejected the offer of freedom, and added that he had done wrong and should not be made to apologise.

He said: "I reject this court, and going to trial before this court. It is against my will and my conviction that the charges are out of the court's jurisdiction."

Arshid said that according to Jordanian law he should be tried according to the country's press and publications law, and not at a state security court. He added that the offending post had been removed.

"Thus, the actions taken against me are invalid and unconstitutional, and I demand their reversal. And if I could not find justice here, we shall meet before God."

Judges adjourned the court session until next Monday.

Saleh al-Armouti, the head of Arshid's defence team, said the state security prosecutor general had at an earlier point said that the court has no jurisdiction in cases related to "disturbing relations with foreign countries".

He called on the court not to make civil liberties and democracy in Jordan suffer due to "orders" of foreign countries.

The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Brotherhood in Jordan, held a sit-in outside the court. They said they were there to show their rejection of the court's legitimacy and were joined by the defence team when the session was adjourned.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.