14 October 1997


Writer arrested over unpublished article criticizing local politician

Incident details

Ali Sneid



(HRW/IFEX) - Police arrested Ali Sneid, a 25-year old Jordanian
writer from a small village near Madaba, on 26 September 1997 at
the bus station in Madaba as he was boarding a bus for the
village of Ziban.

Sneid had recently written an article that criticized a local
leader for making what he perceived to be disparaging remarks
about several prominent independent political figures in a speech
delivered in Madaba in the presence of King Hussein and which was
broadcast on national television. Newspapers declined to publish
the article, so Sneid made copies of it and planned to circulate
it himself. Sneid was initially held in the custody of the
General Intelligence Department in Amman and on 2 October was
transferred to Jwaideh Prison, in southern Amman, where he is
currently being held. He is being investigated for allegedly
violating Article 195 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes
expression that is considered to violate the dignity of the King.
On 7 October, the state security court refused the application by
Sneid's lawyer to have his client released on bail.

For the first week after his arrest, Sneid was held in
incommunicado detention and his family was not informed that he
was in the custody of the General Intelligence Department. After
his transfer to Jwaideh prison, Sneid was allowed visits but
informed his lawyer that he fears for his safety because he is
being held in a cell with violent criminals. Prison guards have
shaved his head, a practice usually reserved for criminal, rather
than political, prisoners.

In 1996, Sneid wrote a play about the trial of Laith Shubeilat,
the president of the Jordanian Engineers Association and an
outspoken critic of government policies who was tried and
convicted by the state security court in 1996 for violating
Article 195 of the Penal Code. Just prior to Shubeilat's release
by the King on 8 November 1996, Sneid had been circulating copies
of his play. He was arrested by security forces and detained for
several days.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • indicating that Article 19 of the International Covenant on
    Civil and Political Rights, to which Jordan is a state party,
    guarantees the right of individuals "to seek, receive, and impart
    information and ideas through any media and regardless of
  • fearing that the arrest of Ali Sneid violates this essential
    human right
  • urging that, unless Sneid is to be charged with a recognizable
    criminal offence, he be released immediately

    Appeals To

    His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal
    King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    The Royal Palace
    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    Fax: +962 6 634 755

    His Excellency Abdul Al-Salam Al-Majali
    Prime Minister
    Office of the Prime Minister
    PO Box 80
    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    Fax: +962 6 642 520

    His Excellency Riad Shakaa
    Minister of Justice
    Ministry of Justice
    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    Telegram: Minister of Justice, Amman, Jordan

    His Excellency Natheer Irshid
    Minister of the Interior
    Ministry of the Interior
    The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    Fax: +962 6 606 908

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Human Rights Watch
    350 Fifth Avenue
    New York, NY 10118
    United States
    hrwnyc (@) hrw.org

    Fax:+1 212 736 1300
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