A Letter to Harry Reid Gets Man Thrown in Jail

A Jordanian activist and author was recently arrested for writing a letter to Senator Harry Reid that was posted on the internet.

This photo from the Jordanian Democracy Movement website shows shows King Abdullah II’s security forces ready To attack protesters in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday, May 2, 2007.
The Sign Reads: “Free Press and Political Parties…Stop…No More!”

Or Does It Explode carries this sad news that all started with a letter to Senator Harry Reid:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of former Jordanian parliamentarian Ahmad Oweidi Abbadi (pictured below) on 3 May for accusing King Abdallah’s government of corruption in an open letter to US senator Harry Reid that 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 in 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 heads the Jordanian National Movement, which says its supports democracy, human rights and political, economic and social reforms. He is being held in Al-Jwaidah prison. A member of his 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 traditional media are closely watch in Jordan, and journalists have to belong to the government-controlled Jordanian Press Association.

Ahmad Oweidi Abbadi has aguest book where you are able to write a comment to the detained activist.

I just found the letter to Senator Harry Reid from Dr. Ahmad Owibi Abbadi that resulted in his jailing:

The Honorable Senator Harry Reid, U.S. Senate Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
528 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Reid:

We are writing you this letter to express our utmost concerns regarding the current deteriorated state of political, economic and social affairs in Jordan. Jordan is now going through its worst period of dictatorship. The entire nation is in tatters. The people of Jordan are in an unbearable economic situation and live under one of the worst dictatorial regimes in the world….

King Abdullah II’s corrupt regime has been dragging its feet to change the unjust and undemocratic elections law. This law, introduced and ratified by a Royal Decree in August 1993, contains serious flaws that hinder the development of political participation in Jordan. Richard Chambers, an election monitor from the United Kingdom, stated in December, 2006, “The combination of the existing electoral system, arbitrary allocation of parliamentary seats to electoral districts, and various legal restrictions placed on voters as well as candidates, all preserved in the current law, have produced a slanted representation of the country’s dynamic populace in Parliament.” Many people now firmly believe that the upcoming Parliament elections in Jordan will be contaminated and debased as journalists, elites, leaders of communities and the general public have witnessed the government and its security agencies making serious moves and groupings to interfere directly in these elections. On March 17, 2007, the managing editor of Al Arab Al Yawm Newspaper, Fahad Al-Khitan, wrote, “The decision has been made NOT to change the current elections law, and the national dialogue (announced by the appointed Prime Minister) is a ploy.” In an article published in the daily Al-Ghaad Newspaper on February 19, 2007, Mohammad Abu Romman, a Jordanian daily columnist, made it very clear that the “road for political reforms in Jordan is closed.”

It has never been easy being a reporter in Jordan. Over its nearly 50-year history, the royal court and the government censor have closed papers and spiked stories while reporters and editors have been physically and verbally attacked and their offices ransacked. The recent new amendments to the Law of Penalties allow for the prosecution and imprisonment of journalist(s) and individual(s) who commit action or publish an opinion that represents an insult to people’s religious sentiments or beliefs; instigates sectarianism or racism; slanders or libels against the state, individuals or their personal freedoms, and spreads false information or rumors about them. It forbids sending emails that carry criticism of the king and royal family members, stressing such emails must be considered as a form of terrorism: The punishment is 3 years in prison plus hard labor. This new law, signed by the illustrious King Abdullah II, equates the punishment of terrorists with those who express their opinions freely and criticize the king and royal family.

Once again, despite anticipation that the government of King Abdullah II had ushered in a new economic era, King Abdullah II and his government still await fulfillment of the U.S. promise of a wave of new foreign aid money to keep Jordan afloat. The king must understand that the current U.S. government may no longer have the willingness to save Jordan or to commit current resources to that end. Moreover, in Jordan, there is a huge underwater “sucking sound,” which consumes American aid almost as fast as it can be appropriated by the U.S. Widespread corruption characterizes Jordan’s political leadership and many “Fat Cats” in Jordan’s business community. The corruption which is permeating all levels of the Royal Court and the government suggests that American foreign aid may be sucked into a giant black vacuum of greed…..

Sincerely,

Dr. Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi
Jordanian National Movement, Chairman
Amman, Jordan

Dr. Abdul Salam Al-Mualla
Jordan National Movement, Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Virginia, United States of America

Not the most flattering letter… Maybe if he would have left that part out about the “underwater sucking sound” he would have been better off.

The Jordan National Movement also sent a letter to President Bush after Dr. al-Abbadi was imprisoned. It can be read here.

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