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Jordan denies report that ex-chief of royal court on hunger strike

February 15, 2023 at 11:18 am

Jordanian Bassem Awadallah, the then-vice-president of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD), seen on 20 June 2006 in Petra, Jordan [JOSEPH BARRAK/AFP via Getty Images]

Jordan has denied a CNN report claiming the former chief of the Royal Court, Bassem Awadallah, has gone on hunger strike in protest against his detention, stressing that he has eaten his meals regularly over the past three days.

In April 2021, dual US-Jordanian citizen Awadallah was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of incitement against the state and sowing sedition in coordination with Jordan’s Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, in order to “destabilise” the kingdom. The charges were denied by Prince Hamza, who was put under house arrest for a while, and were also denied by Awadallah’s representatives, who described them as “fabricated”.

On Monday, CNN reported Awadallah’s US lawyer Michael Sullivan as saying that the hunger strike is intended to draw attention to his “unjust imprisonment” and to urge the administration of US President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers in the US Congress to advocate for his release.

Yesterday CNN said it had received an official statement from the Jordan Public Security Directorate which considered the reports “inaccurate allegations”, though it did note that he had refrained from eating on Monday.

READ: Former chief of Royal Court goes on prison hunger strike

According to the Public Security Directorate’s statement, Awadallah refused his meals, but had not submitted written notification of his intention to go on hunger strike to the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers as laws require.

The Jordanian  Public Security Directorate’s statement denied Sullivan’s claims about his client being subjected to “physical, psychological and emotional torture” during his detention, stressing that he was “not abused in any way” and that he gave his “statement voluntarily without any coercion”.

The statement indicated that the American consul visits Awadallah periodically “because he holds American citizenship,” explaining that his meals are prepared under “strict health supervision by specialised doctors to ensure that he remains in good health,” in addition to undergoing periodic examinations, whether by the medical team at the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre, or his personal physician.