Jordan to push for return of journalist held in UAE
The Jordan Press Association on Tuesday said it received guarantees from the government that it will push to secure the return of Tayseer Najjar, who was sentenced to prison by a UAE court in March 2017, to complete his prison time in Jordan.
Najjar was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dirhams (around JD96,000) after he posted Facebook comments deemed “insulting to the United Arab Emirates”, according to the court verdict.
In September, the Jordan Press Association (JPA) sent a letter to the Jordanian government asking for its help in securing a pardon and a release for the journalist, said JPA President Rakan Saaideh.
“We have been following up on his case since he was arrested and have used all channels and means to try to secure his release and or pardon. The government informed us that there is a possibility for something positive taking place in his case,” Saaideh told The Jordan Times.
The Jordanian Ministry of Justice has contacted the UAE justice officials to move him to spend the rest of his jail time in Jordan, according to Saaideh.
“We are working on all possible details to secure his release to a Jordanian correctional and rehabilitation centre so he can be closer to his family,” Saaideh added.
The UAE court also ordered that Najjar’s social media accounts be shut down and his equipment confiscated by authorities. The convicted journalist faces deportation after serving his sentence.
The Jordanian journalist was detained in December 2015 and charged with violating the UAE’s cyber crime law over Facebook comments criticising the UAE, among other countries, over the 2014 Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Article 29 of the UAE’s cybercrime law criminalises the online publication of information “with intent to make sarcasm or damage the reputation, prestige or stature of the state or... any of its symbols”.
Najjar’s detention drew condemnation from international rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
JPA board member Khaled Qudah, who is also head of the Freedom’s Committee at the syndicate, said the association will continue to exert efforts until the last day of his detention.
Qudah told The Jordan Times: “If we are unable to secure a pardon and he still has to pay the JD100,000 fine, then we will solicit our members and the public’s support to raise the funds to secure his release so he can return to Jordan after completing his three-year sentence.”