A former member of the Jordanian parliament has been arrested on charges of “assaulting the king and the queen”, Al Jazeera reported, citing the royal critic’s family and lawyer as sources.
Ahmad Oweidi Al-Abadi, 75, who has long been a critic of the Jordanian monarchy, was arrested by the country’s General Intelligence Department in Amman on 2 June.
The charges against the former MP were quoted as “violating electronic law” and “attempting to undermine the regime”, but further details of the indictment remain unclear.
Al-Abadi, a former army colonel, served as a right-wing member of parliament between 1997 and 2001. The former MP has frequently argued against the continued presence of Palestinians in Jordan and has questioned their citizenship, Al Jazeera reported.
Adding that Al-Abadi has previously argued against the Jordanian royal family, openly denouncing Queen Rania for her Palestinian origins and calling for a republic.
The former MP received a two-year jail sentence over emails which were deemed “false news” that was “harmful to the state” in 2007. While in 2012, Al-Abadi was detained and prosecuted over a press interview during which he argued Jordan should be a republic.
According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, in the interview, Al-Abadi described the monarchy as an archaic system of governance that fails to accurately represent the wishes of the people. The former MP suggested retired military officials would enact a coup but did not advocate violence to bring about a “revolution”.
Under Jordanian law, it is illegal to criticise the monarch, domestic institutions, officials or foreign governments.
A 2019 report from the HRW claims this violates ideals of free speech. The watchdog’s report said the Jordanian government had “detained over 30 political and anti-corruption activists and filed charges against some that violated the right to free expression”.
“The charges filed against activists ranged from insulting the king to ‘undermining the political regime’ and ‘online slander’,” HRW said.
On 3 June, Al-Abbadi’s family released a statement calling for the immediate release of their relative. While the former MP’s son, Nomayy Al-Abadi, who works as a doctor in Germany, told Al Jazeera he is calling on international human rights groups to secure a swift release and mentioned his father suffers from chronic heart disease and diabetes.