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Jordanians Protest Army Officer’s 5-Year Sentence Over Facebook Post

Jordanian citizens have taken to social media to express their outrage over the long prison sentence handed down to an army officer over criticism he expressed in a Facebook post. A military court sentenced the officer, Nidal Tarazi, 29, to five years in jail on Sunday after he wrote critically on the popular social media platform about the government’s handling of a March 2021 incident in which 10 COVID-19 patients at Al-Salt hospital died due to a lack of oxygen. In contrast to Tarazi’s sentence, the hospital’s director, who was found guilty of “causing the deaths” of the 10 patients, received only three years in prison. “We want justice for Nidal” has become a popular hashtag among speech rights advocates in the kingdom. Tarazi was convicted on five charges: incitement and sedition, abuse of military institutions, insulting the king, destabilizing the security of the country, and undermining the state. Jordan, which has traditionally permitted more internal criticism than neighbors such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt, has in recent years cracked down on dissent. The human rights watchdog Freedom House categorizes Jordan as “not free” overall, but says it is “partly free” in terms of internet access, content limits and user rights.