Ahmad Oweidi al Abbadi, a 62 year old former colonel, was sentenced this week to two years in jail for sending emails that the court ruled to be carrying false news, according to Reuters.com.
Abbadi was found guilty on three charges of undermining state dignity, publishing false news on emails sent to foreign figures and also, illegally distributing leaflets. Abbadi has been very vocal in his criticisms of the Jordanian royal family over the past few months, and has accused top officials of corruption via a personal Web site.
Reportedly, Abbadi also sent emails to U.S. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid expressing his views on what he terms as a steep rise in official corruption. These emails figured into the Jordanian courts rendering of a guilty verdict, according to the Jordanian media. Abbadi was reportedly scheduled to address the Senate in September of this year to speak out about his beliefs, an event which never occurred.
Jordan, a country known for its particularly harsh penalties for those who slander King Abdullah or Jordans royal family, has been denounced recently by human rights groups, who have since called for Abbadis release, believing that his arrest was politically motivated.
The countrys new Web site law, announced this month, bans all online articles seen as being in contempt of religion, damaging, to national unity, or offensive to public morals. This law, like the laws passed by many countries worldwide, are seen as outright censorship, if not human rights violations, by critics.
Abbadi is no stranger to controversy. He hails from a prominent Jordanian tribe, and has authored dozens of books about Jordans tribal roots that reflect his strong views against the presence of the Palestinians who settled the kingdom after a succession of Arab Israeli wars.
Commenting on the charges against him, Abbadi called them politically motivated and malicious. The only reason that al Abbadi languishes in jail waiting for his court verdict is that he is a government opponent exercising his right to free speech. Says the Human Rights News, HRN online. In Jordan, there is a nefarious mix of outdated laws criminalizing free speech and prosecutors wiling to use them against regime critics.
Abbadi, who last served in parliament from 1997 to 2001, was arrested in May, following a complaint by Interior Minister Eid Fayez, who also made allegations of human rights abuse against the former Colonel on behalf of the Jordanian royal family.