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Ex-parliamentarian arrested for criticising government corruption in Internet letter

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the 3 May 2007 arrest of former Jordanian parliamentarian Ahmad Oweidi Abbadi after he accused King Abdallah's government of corruption in an open letter to US Senator Harry Reid, which he posted on the Internet.

"This is the first time that someone has been arrested in Jordan because of what they posted online," the press freedom organisation said. "Using imprisonment to silence a government opponent and to cover up embarrassing scandals is unacceptable."

Interior Minister Eid Al-Fayez is prosecuting Abbadi on charges of defamation, "violating laws governing the Internet" and "harming the state's prestige and reputation". Abbadi's letter accused the government of corruption, human rights abuses and "attacking the independence of the media."

Abbadi was a member of parliament from 1989 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 2001. He has been criticised for, among other things, inviting the Israeli prime minister to his home. He currently heads the non-accredited Jordanian National Movement, whose mission is to "support democracy, human rights and political, economic and social reform." He is being held in Al-Jwaidah prison.

Another member of the party, Abdul Salam Al-Mualla, has written to US President Georges W. Bush asking him to do all he can to get Abbadi released.

The media is closely monitored in Jordan and journalists must join the government-controlled Jordanian Press Association.

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