Jordan calls on UAE to return detained journalist, Tayseer al-Najjar
The Jordanian government have called upon the Emirati authorities to return Tayseer al-Najjar, a Jordanian journalist currently imprisoned in the UAE for social media comments.
According to reports, Jordanian authorities are working closely with Emirati officials to secure the return of al-Najjar. The perspective deal will see the journalist transferred to a Jordanian prison to serve out the remaining two years of his sentence.
In March of last year, Abu Dhabi courts sentenced Tayseer al-Najjar to three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 UAE Dh ($136,000) for a series of Facebook comments he made in 2014 which allegedly declared support for Hamas and criticised both the UAE and President Sisi of Egypt.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have since issued calls for al-Najjar's immediate and unconditional release.
This latest intervention by the Jordanian government comes off the back of sustained pressure from civil society groups inside the country who have been pushing for al-Najjar's release. Last September, the Jordanian Press Association (JPA) sent a letter to the Jordanian authorities calling upon them to intervene in al-Najjar's case.
On Tuesday last week, the JPA said that it had received guarantees from the government that it was working to secure the return of the journalist, whose health, according to reports, has deteriorated significantly since his detention in UAE's al-Whathba prison.
The JPA president, Rakan Saaidah told The Jordan Times that the Jordanian Ministry of Justice had made contact with UAE officials in a bid to transfer al-Najjar to a Jordanian prison.
“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 said.
He added, “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.”
We welcome the Jordanian government's intervention into the case of Tayseer al-Najjar and his imminent return to Jordan. Tayseer al-Najjar was convicted solely on the basis of exercising his basic right to freedom of speech. Therefore we reiterate our calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Whether it be in an Emirati or Jordanian prison, there is no justification for al-Najjar's continued detention.
The UAE authorities must ensure that the cybercrime and anti-terrorism laws meet international human rights standards on freedom of expression and association, and call on the UAE to immediately and unconditionally release Tayseer al-Najjer as well as other prisoners of conscience detained within their borders.
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