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Editor released on bail but still faces up to three years in jail

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders urges the state security court to withdraw its case against Fayez Al-Ajrashi, editor-in-chief of the privately owned weekly "El-Ekhbariya", who was released from Al-Juweida prison (15 km south of Amman) on 2 November 2008 after paying 3,000 dinars (approx. 3,300 euros) in bail. Al-Ajrashi is still facing charges of "inflaming sectarian strife" and "sowing national discord."

"We are relieved to learn of Al-Ajrashi's release but he is still threatened by a prosecution that has all the appearance of a reprisal," Reporters Without Borders said. "Bringing a libel suit before a state security court, which is meant to try treason and terrorism cases, is an abuse of power and a denial of justice."

Al-Ajrashi was arrested on 28 October and charged by the state security court's chief prosecutor under Article 150 of the criminal code, which carries a possible three-year prison sentence. He is also being sued for libel in a civil court by Amman governor Saad Wadi Al-Munasir. The court held an initial hearing in the suit on 2 November and read out the charges.

Al-Ajrashi told Reporters Without Borders that both complaints were linked to a series of articles in recent months in which he criticised the governor's record and exposed cases of corruption in the capital.

In a similar case, former parliamentarian Ahmad Oweidi Abbadi was sentenced by the state security court in October 2007 to two years in prison on a charge of "attacking the state's prestige and reputation" for criticising government corruption on his website.

Updates the Al-Ajrashi case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98046

For more information on the Abbadi case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/86910

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