By Rana Husseini
AMMAN – The Amman Criminal Court on Sunday decided to acquit two commentators on charges related to political remarks they made in separate TV talk shows regarding Jordan’s involvement in Afghanistan.
Presiding Judge Nas-ser Salamat declared Mwaffaq Mahadin, a columnist at Al Arab Al Yawm daily, and Sufyan Tal, a commentator and international consultant on environmental matters, not responsible for charges ranging from harming relations with a friendly country and attempting to topple the regime, to disseminating false information and harming a security establishment.
Judge Salamat ruled that Article 118 of the Penal Code, which stipulates punishment for speeches and writings that harm the country’s relations with other countries, is “unconstitutional”.
Lawyer Riyad Nawayseh, who represented the defendants for parts of the trial before quitting at a later stage for personal reasons, described Salamat’s decision as “unprecedented”.
“The judge’s decision is an important step towards more freedom of expression in Jordan and for the media in general,” he told The Jordan Times.
Mahadin also praised the judiciary “that proved that it is just and objective”.