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Jordan faces backlash over deportation of Palestinian ex-prisoner

Screenshot of Nizar Tamimi and his wife Ahlam on Jordanian TV [@FrimetRoth/Twitter]
Screenshot of Nizar Tamimi and his wife Ahlam on Jordanian TV [@FrimetRoth/Twitter]

The Jordanian government has faced a backlash over its decision to deport Palestinian ex-prisoner Nizar Tamimi, 46, after a plea for his return made on a local radio station by his wife was cut off, sparking censorship concerns.

Tamimi was recently ordered to leave Jordan after the government refused to renew his residency and gave him a mere 48 hours to exit the country.

"The security officials asked me to leave Jordan immediately and that their decision is final and non-negotiable no matter what," the 46-year-old was quoted by the Palestinian Media Centre as saying.

"This happened so quickly, not leaving a chance for any intervention to get the order changed. All efforts in this regard failed, all I could do was ask for a couple of days to organise my life before leaving," Tamimi added.

"I was told of the decision without any explanation of why it was taken. I had to leave on 1 October against my will. I had to go to Qatar because I have residency in that country."

Following his deportation, Tamimi's wife, Ahlam, spoke on one of the country's popular radio stations, Jordan Melody FM, appealing to King Abdullah II to revoke the decision.

READ: Jordan sign deal to open its airspace to Israel

Ahlam, however, was cut off while speaking to the presenter over the phone live on air, sparking concerns she was being censored.

The radio station has since apologised, claiming the issue was a technical one to do with the sound unit, which had left the presenter unable to hear what Ahlam was saying.

Tamimi's deportation has been widely seen as an attempt by the Jordanian authorities to relieve pressure exerted by the US, which has designated his wife, a "most wanted terrorist" and placed a $5 million bounty on her head.

The US has continuously pressured Jordan to extradite Ahlam, offering billions of dollars in aid to the country in June in exchange.

In 2017, however, a local court ruled that Ahlam, as a Jordanian citizen, could not be extradited as the kingdom has no formal extradition treaty with the US.

Ahlam was originally imprisoned for a period of 16 life sentences over her role in a 2001 bombing in Jerusalem which left 15 dead, including seven children.

Meanwhile, Nizar was imprisoned in 1993 over the murder of a student residing in an Israeli settlement, which are widely considered illegal under international law, in the occupied West Bank.

Both were freed in 2011, in a prisoner exchange with Hamas and have since resided in Jordan.

READ: Jordan's Islamists ally for upcoming parliamentary elections

Asia & AmericasIsraelJordanMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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