Jul 11, 2021 - World

U.S. defendant in Jordanian sedition case alleges torture

Bassem Awadallah in 2006

Bassem Awadallah in 2006. Photo: Joseph Barrak/AFP via Getty

Bassem Awadallah, the primary defendant in a sedition case that has shaken Jordan over the past few months, recently alleged that he was tortured while held in detention, his U.S.-based lawyer told the Associated Press on Sunday.

Why it matters: The allegation comes to light on the eve of Monday's verdict, which will decide whether Awadallah, who has American, Jordanian and Saudi citizenship, is guilty of sedition and incitement charges.

  • It also comes shortly before President Biden hosts Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House on July 19.

Catch up quick: Awadallah, a former chief of Jordan's royal court who is also close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, stands accused of conspiring with Jordan's former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein to destabilize the kingdom.

  • He has pled not guilty and his lawyer told Axios he is already preparing for an appeal.

The big picture: Awadallah's U.S.-based lawyer, Michael Sullivan, raised concerns about the fairness of the sedition trial as well as of Awadallah's safety, according to AP.

  • Sullivan said Awadallah alleged that during detention he had been "beaten, subjected to electrical shock and was threatened with future mistreatment 'if he didn’t confess.'"
  • In a statement last week Awadallah's family, who are based in the United States, said he feared for his life, per AP

The other side: The prosecutor’s office at the state security court denied the allegations that the trial was conducted unfairly or that Awadallah had been coerced into a confession.

  • “He has not been mistreated in any way, and his allegations of torture of any kind are false," the prosecutor said in a statement to AP.
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