Amnesty urges Jordan to free political activists (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 03/31/12)
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Amnesty International on Saturday urged Jordan to free six political
activists charged with insulting King Abdullah II, as police broke up
a demonstration in Amman demanding their release.
The human rights watchdog "is calling for the immediate and
unconditional release of six pro-reform activists held
for ´insulting´ the king," it said in a statement.
"Amnesty International believes them to be prisoners of conscience
held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and
that they are being punished for their pro-reform views and peaceful
The six men were arrested and charged by military prosecutors in mid-
March after a demonstration in the southern city of Tafileh.
If convicted, the six face three years in prison each.
"According to information by Amnesty International, at least three of
them were beaten by security forces during initial interrogations,"
the London-based organisation said.
Opposition Islamists have demanded the authorities free the
activists, and demonstrations have been held in Tafileh and Amman to
protest at their detention.
On Saturday, around 200 members of youth movements demonstrated near
the prime minister´s office in Amman to demand the release of the
activists before police dispersed the protest, an AFP reporter said.
"Police arrested several demonstrators after they refused to stop
chanting against the regime," one protester told AFP, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
But a police statement said "some protesters were arrested for
breaking the law and insulting security officials," adding that the
demonstration "was not peaceful."
"Those who were arrested will be interrogated and sent to court," it
Jordanians have been protesting since January last year demanding
sweeping political and economic reforms and an end to corruption.
"Restrictions on the right to criticise the authorities or state
institutions persist in Jordan and journalists, activists and others
continue to face arrest and prosecution," Amnesty said.
The military State Security Court this month released an 18-year-old
political activist from jail after the king pardoned him for burning
a picture of the monarch. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse.
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