A court has sentenced the Muslim Brotherhood’s second in command in Jordan to 18 months in prison for criticising the UAE.
Zaki Bani Ersheid was arrested in November last year for condemning Jordan’s ally, the UAE, after it labelled the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.
He was charged with harming Jordan’s relationship with a friendly country.
His lawyer, Saleh al-Armouti, claimed the sentence was politically motivated and said: “It's the death of freedom of speech and a sword that hangs over anyone who dares express his personal view.”
Dozens of Brotherhood supporters campaigned outside the court, chanting anti-government slogans after the sentence was announced.
Leadership of the Brotherhood in Jordan condemned the ruling, claiming the government was retreating from political reforms they had promised, adding in a statement that the verdict “represses freedoms and confiscates the rights of individuals”.
In pictures: Anti-Isis protests in Jordan
In pictures: Anti-Isis protests in Jordan
1/15 Amman, Jordan
Members of Jordan's Al Assaf tribe burn a ''Wanted Dead'' poster of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi at a rally
2/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanian protesters carry an effigy of leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a march after Friday prayers in downtown Amman
3/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanian Queen Rania (C) holds a placard during a demonstration to express solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State
4/15 Amman, Jordan
A protester dressed in a Jordanian flag joins others as they hold up pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah and Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, while chanting slogans during a march against Islamic State
5/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians hold banners shouting slogans during a demonstration to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State
6/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians carry banners and pictures of executed Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh while shouting slogans against the group calling themselves the Islamic State, during a march after noon pray in downtown Amman
7/15 Amman, Jordan
Protesters hold up pictures of Jordan's King Abdullah and pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh as they chant slogans during a rally in Amman to show their loyalty to the King and against the Islamic State
8/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally
9/15 Amman, Jordan
Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to show their support for the government against terror during a rally
10/15 Amman, Jordan
A Jordanian protester kisses a poster bearing the image of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh during a rally to show their loyalty to King Abdullah and against the Islamic State
11/15 Amman, Jordan
A Jordanian shouts slogans during a rally against the Islamic state group and in reaction to the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh by the group's militants
12/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians carry pictures of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh at a protest against Islamic State
13/15 Amman, Jordan
Supporters and family members of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh express their anger at his murder at the tribal gathering chamber in Amman, Jordan
14/15 Aye Village, Karak, Jordan
The King of Jordan, Abdullah II (L), embracing Safi al-Kassasbeh (R), the father of the recently executed Jordanian pilot
15/15 Aye Village, Karak, Jordan
Jordan's Queen Rania offers her condolences to the family of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, at their family home of Muath
REUTERS/Petra News Agency
A number of Arab countries, including Egypt and the UAE, have adopted a tougher stance on Islamist groups in recent months and the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt and labelled a terrorist network in other states.
The organisation, which maintains it is peaceful, remains active in Jordanian politics and as the second largest political grouping in the country enjoy significant grassroots support.
However, it has been affected by the country’s crackdown on Isis, following the murder of a Jordanian pilot, who was burnt alive by militants in Syria.
In response to the murder, Jordan intensified its airstrikes on Isis in Syria, specifically around the town of Raqqa.
UAE, a major financial backer of Jordan, has participated in a number of these US-led airstrikes on Isis, alongside its ally.
In response to the ruling, some ministers suggested that the Brotherhood should be banned from operating as a political party, as part of a more hardline approach towards the organisation.
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content