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Arabic press review: Jordan MP punished for saying power outages were deliberate

Meanwhile, detained Egyptian journalist in critical condition and Jordanian accused of spying for UAE set for trial in Turkey
Members of the Jordanian parliament during an emergency meeting in 2017 (Reuters)

Jordanian MP penalised for speech criticising government

Jordan's parliament has frozen the membership of an MP for a year after a speech he gave criticising the government, al-Ghad newspaper reports.

During Monday's session of parliament, MP Osama al-Ajarmah said kingdom-wide power outages last Friday were deliberate "in order to prevent solidarity marches with Palestine in light of the recent Israeli aggression".

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After his speech, Parliament Speaker Abdel Moneim al-Awdat referred al-Ajarmah to the Legal Committee for an investigation.

"Al-Ajarmah's intervention constituted a violation of the parliament's code of procedures and does not have any actual relevance to the session’s main subjects of discussion," al-Awdat said.

In addition to the one-year freeze, al-Ajarmah has been denied any accompanying privileges or financial incentives "because of his insult to the parliament, its prestige, reputation, members, and the internal system of the parliament," said the newspaper. 

Jordan's House of Representatives considered his speech to be an insult to the parliament's prestige and reputation, according to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

The general director of Jordan's National Electricity Company told a parliamentary committee this week that there were several possible reasons for the blackout, including a large bird standing on the network line.

Detained Egyptian journalist in critical condition

Detained Egyptian journalist and writer Gamaal el-Gamal has been transferred to a prison hospital following a deterioration in his health, a source close to el-Gamal told the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

The source said that the journalist needs intensive treatment and rest after suffering from two successive strokes.

A source from el-Gamal's family had confirmed earlier that the detained journalist contracted Covid-19 and was transferred to the isolation unit after his health declined.

El-Gamal suffers from chest, back and neck pains, and his condition has deteriorated significantly during the past two days, according to the family source, who spoke to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The prison's administration refused to transfer him to the healthcare unit for examination and treatment, and also prevented his family from transferring him to a clinic, the source said.

On 28 February, el-Gamal appeared before the prosecution office in Egypt, five days after his disappearance upon arriving at Cairo International Airport from Istanbul.

Trial of Jordanian accused of spying for UAE set for next month

The trial of a Jordanian citizen accused of spying for the benefit of the United Arab Emirates is scheduled to begin in the Turkish criminal court on 17 June, Al Khalij Online reports.

Ahmed al-Astal faces a 159-page indictment prepared by the Turkish Public Prosecution Office which has recommended a sentence of life imprisonment.

The Turkish prosecutor accuses al-Astal of "divulging information, for the purpose of political or military espionage, which should remain secret with the aim of preserving state security and internal or external political interests". 

Turkish intelligence said that al-Astal, who works as a journalist, has been preparing reports on Arab dissidents and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated residents living in Turkey since 2013.

Al-Astal has allegedly passed on information to the UAE about internal and external political developments in Turkey and its relations with the world, in addition to writing a report on the failed coup attempt that took place on 15 July 2016. 

Last October, Turkey's intelligence service and counter-terrorism teams arrested al-Astal on charges of spying for the UAE.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye