Jordan: Arbitrary Detention of Student Tortured by the Intelligence Services and Subjected to a Flawed Trial Before the State Security Court
On 15 February 2016, 21 year-old student Adam Al Natour, a Polish and Jordanian binational, was sentenced to four years in prison by the State Security Court after a flawed trial during which confessions he was forced to sign under torture were used against him. Concerned over the arbitrariness of his detention, Alkarama raised his case with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to demand that the UN experts call upon the Jordanian authorities to release Adam Al Natour immediately.
Adam Al Natour plight started on 12 August 2015 while he was visiting his father in Al Bayader, Amman. That day, Adam was helping his father in his garage when 15 members of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) – the country's intelligence agency –, arrested him, and took him to an unknown location without providing any reasons. The following day, his father was told by a GID official that his son was being held because he had "Jihadi thoughts." Detained incommunicado for three weeks, it is only in early September 2015 that his father was allowed to visit him in the GID premises. His son told him that he had been heavily tortured by agents of the GID, in particular that he had been beaten and subjected to electric shocks during the first days of his detention.
On 28 September, Adam was transferred to Muwaqqar prison II outside Amman, a few days after he was brought before the General Prosecutor of the State Security Court and forced to sign a paper written in Arabic that he was unable to read since he does not speak, read nor understand Arabic. In late October 2015, Adam was indicted on the basis of the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 55 of 2006 and referred to trial before the State Security Court. It is only a week before his first hearing in mid-November 2015 that he was allowed to contact his lawyer for the first time. Lastly, during most of the trial, Adam was not assisted by a translator and was unable to understand what was being said or asked.
On 15 February 2016, Adam was sentenced to four years of imprisonment under the Anti-Terrorism Law for "joining an armed group and terrorist organisation". The decision was based on the statement he signed under torture and on the fact that he was suspected of having "travelled to Syria through Turkey".
In March 2016, Adam started a 5-week long hunger strike to protest against his arbitrary imprisonment. However, he was punished for that by prison guards who placed him in solitary confinement, prevented him from any contact with the outside world and denied him access to a doctor. He was also heavily beaten and subjected to other forms of torture for several days, in order to force him to end his hunger strike. On 14 March 2016, Adam's lawyer submitted an appeal to the Cassation Court; however, no hearing session has been scheduled yet.
"Adam's case is emblematic of an alarming pattern of violations committed in the name of 'counter-terrorism' in which victims are tortured, detained incommunicado for long periods of time by the Intelligence Services in order to extract false confessions" says Inès Osman, Legal Officer for the Mashreq at Alkarama. "The confessions are then used before the State Security Court which is composed of judges who are neither independent nor impartial".
Concerned over the arbitrary character of Al Natour's detention, Alkarama seized the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to reiterate its demand that the UN experts call upon Jordanian authorities to immediately release him.
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