General Views Of Amman, Jordan

Jordan: Authorities must release journalist Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi imprisoned over social media post

Jordanian authorities must immediately release prominent journalist Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi, who was arrested on 2 July 2024 by security forces enacting a court ruling issued a year ago, which sentenced him to one year in prison over a Facebook post criticizing the authorities, Amnesty International said today.

According to court documents reviewed by Amnesty International, the court of First Instance initially sentenced Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi to two months in prison and a fine on 22 June 2023 for a Facebook post, which criticized the authorities’ response to transportation strikes in the southern governorate of Ma’an. He was convicted under Article 150 of the Penal Code and Article 15 of the country’s previous Cybercrime Law for “inciting strife”.

“No one should be imprisoned simply for expressing criticism of the authorities on social media. Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi’s detention is part of a widespread, ongoing crackdown on dissent in Jordan which has in recent months targeted hundreds of individuals. In addition to his arbitrary arrest and conviction, he also faced an unfair trial on charges that are not recognizable crimes under international law,” said Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Jordanian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi and quash his conviction. The authorities must also amend vague and overly broad provisions of laws, such as the new Cybercrime Law, being used to criminalize freedom of expression.”

Following the public prosecution’s appeal of Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi’s sentence, on 27 July 2023, an appeals court increased the sentence to one year in prison and a fine of JD 200 (around US$282). However, Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi was not taken into custody until now.

Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi’s lawyer stated that the prosecution relied solely on his Facebook post to convict him of “inciting strife” and referred to the comments section on the public post in which other individuals expressed inciteful sentiments. An appeals court issued its verdict without setting court sessions and allowing al-Zoubi and his lawyer to present a defense. Under Jordanian law, misdemeanors can only be appealed once before the Court of Appeals. However, the law allows for special appeal requests before the Cassation Court on an exceptional basis. The Minister of Justice refused three requests by al-Zoubi’s lawyer to appeal the case to the Court of Cassation for a final judgment.


Ahmad Hassan al-Zoubi is a prominent journalist, playwright and satirist who has written for a range of Jordanian and regional media outlets. He is also the founder of Sawaleif, a Jordanian news website. Al-Zoubi’s arrest comes as part of a pattern of the Jordanian authorities’ crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly through the use of vague and overly broad criminal provisions in the Crime Prevention Law, the 1960 Penal Code, and the newly amended Cybercrime Law.

On 12 August 2023, the King approved an amended Cybercrime Law, further repressing individuals’ right to freely express their opinions online. The law introduced harsher prison terms of a minimum of three months and fines of up to JOD 32,000 (US$45,115). The amended law uses language that fails to meet international law requirements for legal texts to be formulated with sufficient precision to allow individuals to regulate their conduct accordingly.

Since the amendment of the Cybercrime Law, Amnesty International has documented an intensified crackdown on freedom of expression. Since 7 October, dozens of protestors have been charged under the Cybercrime Law for social media posts in which they merely expressed pro-Palestinian sentiment, criticized the authorities’ peace deal with Israel, or called for peaceful protests and public strikes. These individuals were charged with provisions that include: “inciting strife” and “undermining national unity,” which are not recognizable offences under international law.