Jordan sentences senior Brotherhood leader to 18 months in jail

Reuters , Sunday 15 Feb 2015

Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan (Photo:Al-Ahram Arabic website)

A Jordanian court sentenced a senior Muslim Brotherhood official to 18 months in prison on Sunday for criticising the United Arab Emirates on social media, a judicial source said.

The military court found Rushaid, who was the first major opposition figure to be arrested in Jordan in recent years, guilty of souring ties with a foreign country.

Rushaid, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, had criticised the UAE for designating the pan-Islamic movement as a terrorist group.

The UAE is one of Jordan's main financial backers and the two countries are close political allies.

Rushaid was arrested in November after writing that the UAE's rulers lacked popular legitimacy and served Israeli interests by playing a leading role in a crackdown on political Islam.

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition party, has operated legally for decades and has substantial grassroots support.

It has ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which Cairo authorities banned in December 2013, but the two groups are not directly affiliated.

Rights activists had criticised Rushaid's arrest, saying the authorities are eroding freedom of expression and putting dissidents on trial in courts they described as unconstitutional.

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