Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jordanian court sentences three ‘Hamas spies’ to five years in prison

Date: 15 / 04 / 2009 Time: 15:17

Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Jordanian court sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas on Wednesday.

A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu Al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim Al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.

The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.

The court reduced what was originally a ten year sentence, taking into consideration that the three are relatively young and have families.

Two other suspects, Muhammad Al-Khujah, 43, and Taleb Abdallah, 46, were charged in connection to the same activities, but were released in early October.

The five were arrested by Jordan between early August and 25 September 2007. The public prosecution also accused them participated in military and security training in a neighboring country.

The Islamic Front, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan claimed that four of the men were affiliated with the movement.
Al Jazeera Wednesday, April 15, 2009
18:41 Mecca time, 15:41 GMT

Jordan jails 'Hamas spies'

The Palestinian Hamas movement was outlawed in Jordan in 1999 and its offices closed [AFP]

Three alleged members of the Palestinian Hamas movement have been jailed in Jordan for up to five years after being convicted of spying.

Judicial sources said on Wednesday that the men had been found guilty of trying to obtain "information that should remain confidential" and possession of unlicensed automatic weapons.

Thabet Abul Haj, Salim al-Housani and Azzam Jaber were arrested in August 2007 and accused of photographing the Israeli embassy and border posts along the frontier with Israel.

Israel and Jordan signed a treaty in 1994 that made it only the second Arab country to normalise relations with the Jewish nation.

Hikmat al-Rawashdeh, a lawyer for the defendants, said that the case was politically motivated and designed to undermine support for Hamas after an outpouring of support from ordinary Jordanians following Israel's 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip.

"It's not a crime to take pictures of public locations that are available even on the internet on Google," he said.

Military training

At the opening of the trial last year, the military prosecutor said that Hamas had provided the men with military training in an unnamed neighbouring country.

The military judge at the state security court initially sentenced the three men to 10 years, but then halved the sentence.

Two other men were acquitted at Wednesday's trial for lack of evidence.

Last year, a group of suspected Hamas fighters were convicted of preparing attacks inside the kingdom.

Jordan outlawed Hamas - which seized full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after pushing out security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president - in 1999.

The Amman offices of the Palestinian movement were closed and senior leaders were expelled.