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Ex-legislator sentenced to two years in prison for online criticism of government corruption

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is outraged by the two-year prison sentence imposed by a state security court on 9 October 2007 on former parliamentarian Ahmad Oweidi Abbadi, for "attacking the state's prestige and reputation" by criticising government corruption on his party's website.

"Jordan is a country where there is absolutely no respect for the right to inform and be informed when someone wants to express opposition to the monarchy or criticise the regime's leading players," the press freedom organisation said. "We are particularly worried by the fact that more and more journalists are being prosecuted."

A member of parliament from 1989 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2001, and head of the Jordan National Movement, a party that is not recognised by the government, Abbadi posted articles on his party's website ( ) that were very critical of the government and corruption in ruling circles. The court also took issue with his email correspondence with the United States government.

A defamation action was brought against him in May by interior minister Eid Al-Fayez after he posted an open letter to U.S. senator Harry Reid on the Internet accusing the minister and other government members of corruption.

Aged 62, Abbadi was arrested on 3 May and placed in Amman's Jwaideh prison. The trial that ended on 9 October lasted more than two months. Abbadi now has 40 days in which to appeal.

The United States regards Jordan as one of its leading Middle East allies and portrays it as a model of democratic reform, but its media are kept under close surveillance and media licences are rarely granted. The first privately-owned television station, ATV, was given a licence two years ago but it still has not been allowed to begin broadcasting.

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