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Jordan sentences former lawmaker to prison for harming state's reputation




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Tuesday, October 9, 2007
By SHAFIKA MATTAR, AP


AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan's military court convicted a former lawmaker Tuesday of harming the government's reputation and sentenced him to two years in prison.

Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi, the head of a small right-wing party called the Jordanian National Movement, was arrested May 3 for allegedly sending an e-mail to U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, in which he decried an allegedly steep increase in corruption among top Jordanian officials.

The Jordanian National Movement has said al-Abbadi accused the government of clamping down on public freedoms, including the media, and blamed the declining levels of health care and education on government corruption.

The military prosecutor also convicted al-Abbadi of heading an illegal organization, slandering officials, illegally distributing leaflets and violating laws on e-mail practices. The verdict can be appealed.

Al-Abbadi's wife, Jamila, 42, called the court's decision "unjust" and told reporters at the end of the hearing that "this verdict was built on hatred by his enemies who are using their positions in the government to harm him."

The Jordanian parliament in March endorsed a controversial press and publication law that slaps heavy fines and prison terms on journalists and others for violations such as slander and religious defamation.

International human rights organizations, like the New York-based Human Rights Watch, have accused the Jordanian government of using laws to silence critics and have called for al-Abbadi's immediate release.



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