Preacher in Jordan, jailed for criticizing Israel ties, freed

Eyad Qunaibi, facing 3 years in prison for posting audio message on social media, served less than a year

Jordanian preacher Eyad Qunaibi. (YouTube/DOAM - Documenting Oppression Against Muslims)
Jordanian preacher Eyad Qunaibi. (YouTube/DOAM - Documenting Oppression Against Muslims)

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan on Tuesday freed an Islamist preacher imprisoned for nearly a year for inciting hatred against the regime on social media, his lawyer said, following criticism from rights campaigners.

Eyad Qunaibi, a 40-year-old Kuwaiti-born Jordanian, was arrested in mid-June for posting an audio message entitled “Jordan on the brink of the abyss” on his Facebook page.

In it he criticized Jordanian relations with Israel — the two neighbors are bound by a peace treaty — and the “Westernization” of Jordanian society.

Qunaibi, who holds a doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Houston in the United States, was sentenced in December to two years in prison, which was increased to three years on appeal.

The State Security Court on Monday reduced the sentence and freed Qunaibi based on time already served, his lawyer Abdelkader al-Khatib told AFP.

His conviction was denounced at the time by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which said the ruling “signals a harsher approach by Jordanian authorities toward speech-related crimes.”

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