Amnesty urges Jordan to free journalist Ahmad Al-Zoubi

Amnesty urges Jordan to free journalist Ahmad Al-Zoubi
Amnesty International's Aya Majzoub said that Ahmad Hassan Al-Zoubi's detention was 'part of a widespread, ongoing crackdown on dissent in Jordan'.
2 min read
07 July, 2024
Amnesty International has called for journalist Ahmad Hassan Al-Zoubi's release [ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty-file photo]

Amnesty International has called for Jordanian authorities to free the well-known journalist Ahmad Hassan Al-Zoubi.

Al-Zoubi was arrested on Tuesday by security forces implementing a 2023 court order, which sentenced him to jail over a Facebook post critical of the authorities' response to transportation strikes.

"No one should be imprisoned simply for expressing criticism of the authorities on social media," said Aya Majzoub, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Ahmad Hassan Al-Zoubi's detention is part of a widespread, ongoing crackdown on dissent in Jordan which has in recent months targeted hundreds of individuals.

"In addition to his arbitrary arrest and conviction, he also faced an unfair trial on charges that are not recognisable crimes under international law."

Majzoub called for Jordanian authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release" the journalist and "quash his conviction".

Amnesty said court documents showed Al-Zoubi was initially handed a sentence of two months and a fine in June 2023.

He was convicted under Article 150 of the penal code and Article 15 of Jordan's former Cybercrime Law for "inciting strife".

Majzoub called on Jordanian authorities to "amend vague and overly broad provisions of laws, such as the new Cybercrime Law, being used to criminalise freedom of expression".

Al-Zoubi's sentence was upped to a year in jail and a 200 Jordanian dinar ($280) fine in July 2023 after an appeal by the public prosecution.

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His lawyer said the prosecution relied completely on his Facebook post to convict him of "inciting strife" and pointed to comments made on the public post where other people had expressed inciteful sentiments.

An appeals court delivered its decision "without setting court sessions and allowing Al-Zoubi and his lawyer to present a defence", Amnesty said.

While in Jordan there can only be one appeal before the Court of Appeals for misdemeanours, special appeal requests before the Cassation Court are possible on an exceptional basis.

The justice minister "refused three requests" from Al-Zoubi's lawyer to take the case to the Court of Cassation, Amnesty said.