Lawyers say activists held in ‘political witch-hunt’ but government justifies the arrests on grounds of incitement.
Jordanian anti-corruption activist Husam al-Abdallat has been arrested on charges of defamation after a complaint was filed by two men whom Abdallat accused of corruption, Jordanian police said.
The arrest, which Abdallat’s family claimed was a “kidnapping” took place when Abdallat was walking home with his teenage son after Friday prayers in Amman.
Four plain-clothed police officers jumped out of a white four-wheel drive vehicle with tinted windows, forced Abdallat into the car and sped away, his family said.
Abdallat’s son said that he and his father mistook the men for a criminal gang as they did not announce who they were.
Abdellat, a former high-ranking Jordan government official, accused former minister and Chief of Police-turned-businessman Abdel Hadi Al Majali and Minister of Labour Ali Al Ghzawi of abusing public office to enrich themselves.
A government official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity that Abdallat had “crossed many red lines because of his activism.”
A statement by the Adallat family on Facebook said that the activist was “kidnapped by police” and never made aware of any charges against him.
Abdallat along with other prominent figures had founded a movement called ‘We The People’ that aims to expose public corruption and force the government to bring charges and try government officials.
He also published an open letter to King Abdullah urging him to replace “corrupt figures” in the government and led a public protest last week in down town Amman demanding an end of public corruption.
Abdel Qader Al Khatib, Abdallat’s lawyer, said that he was denied the right to see his client over the weekend and was instructed to come on Sunday morning to meet him.
Khatib stated that the case against his client “stands on shaky grounds legally” and was “politically motivated.”
Abdallat was jailed for more than a month in January along with other civilian opposition activists, including retired army and intelligence generals, a former MP and several teachers for criticism of government policies and alleging rampant corruption in the government.