Jordan charges 8 with incitement against regime

AFP , Tuesday 17 Jan 2017

Jordan on Tuesday charged eight people including a former lawmaker with inciting opposition against the regime over statements posted on social media, a judicial source said.

"The prosecutor charged a former parliamentarian and seven others with incitement against the political regime in the kingdom," the source said.

Those charged include former lawmaker Wasfi al-Rawashdeh, two retired generals, a lawyer and journalist, and four activists, the source said.

The state security court prosecutor had decided to detain all eight for a renewable period of 14 days.

"They were detained after those charged published comments on Facebook" including incitement against the regime, the source said.

Authorities announced they had detained the eight on Sunday over "incitement intending to influence public opinion".

"Freedom of opinion and speech do not mean incitement or chaos," Prime Minister Hani Mulqi told the press.

On January 5, Rawashdeh posted comments on Facebook criticising tough economic conditions in Jordan, asking "Does the king know?"

"Speak and say something, we're hoping for a speech to explain" possible new taxes and price hikes, he wrote, addressing the country's King Abdullah.

In recent days, media has reported the government is planning another tax hike on some basic goods and fuel.

Jordan, which says its meagre resources have been stretched by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, is facing a public debt of about $35 billion.

Unemployment has jumped to 14 percent of the kingdom's population of 9.5 million, with the young the worst hit, according to the government.

In August, the International Monetary Fund said it had approved a $723 million three-year credit line to support Jordan's "economic and financial reform programme".

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