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HRW criticises charges against ‘peaceful critics’

By JT - Aug 24,2015 - Last updated at Aug 24,2015

AMMAN — Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday criticised the authorities in Jordan for levelling criminal charges against a journalist and a university professor.

The watchdog refers in a statement to the brief detention of Atef Joulani, chief editor of As Sabeel daily, this month over an article he wrote criticising the re-exporting of an Indian gas cylinder shipment to Italy after it was denied entry to Jordan.

The Standards and Metrology Organisation filed the criminal complaint against Joulani, HRW said, noting that he has been charged with “cursing and insulting an official body” under the Penal Code, as well as publishing false news under the Press and Publications Law.

“Jordanian authorities should stop going after peaceful critics and enact reforms that genuinely protect free speech,” the statement quotes Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director, as saying.

“Jordanian authorities have also been holding a university professor, Eyad Qunaibi, since June 15 over Facebook comments criticising what he considered un-Islamic social phenomena in Jordan and Jordan’s cooperation with Israel, among other things,” the statement said.

 

Qunaibi, 39, a pharmacologist and professor at the Applied Sciences University, has been charged with “undermining the political regime in the Kingdom or inciting opposition to it” under article 149 of the Penal Code, which the law defines as a terrorism charge.

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