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Jordan extradites dissident to UAE, alarming rights groups

The move outraged rights groups that expressed concerns about human rights violations Khalaf Abdul Rahman Humaid al-Rumaithi is likely to face upon his return to the UAE.
Khalaf Abdul Rahman al-Romaithi was arrested by Jordanian authorities on May 7, 2023.

Jordanian authorities handed over to the United Arab Emirates an Emirati man convicted of terrorism charges, the Gulf country’s state news agency, WAM, announced on Wednesday.

Khalaf Abdul Rahman Humaid al-Rumaithi, who also holds Turkish citizenship, was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in 2013 on charges of "establishing a secret organization affiliated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood that aims to oppose the foundational principles of the UAE government,” according to WAM.

Rumaithi was extradited to the UAE after an arrest warrant was issued for him in accordance with the bilateral agreements on legal and judicial cooperation of the Arab Interior Ministers’ Council, which is in charge of prosecuting wanted persons fleeing criminal justice in Arab countries, WAM added.

Jordan has not yet commented on the news.

Rumaithi, who is in his 50s, was among more than 65 people who were given various prison sentences in a mass trial in the UAE in 2013 over their alleged involvement in a plot to seize power in the Gulf nation. Most of the defendants belonged to Al-Islah party, which Emirati authorities banned in 2014 over its suspected links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The trial back then, which rights groups described as “unfair,” coincided with a crackdown led by Gulf countries against any Arab Spring-inspired dissent in the region.

According to the Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, Rumaithi, who had been living in Turkey, was arrested on May 7 at the Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman, after Jordanian police issued a warrant for his arrest upon the UAE’s request. He was released on bail a few hours later and allowed entry into Jordan, only to be rearrested the following day in a coffee shop in Amman. Rumaithi’s lawyer last saw him on May 9 when he was allowed to meet with him during a Jordanian court session. A Turkish official informed Rumaithi’s family on May 12 that he had been extradited to the UAE, according to the rights group.

MENA Rights Group condemned Jordan’s move to hand over Rumaithi to the UAE, saying in a tweet that he was unfairly convicted “for supporting democratic reforms.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had warned against the extradition of Rumaithi to the UAE, fearing he would be subjected to torture and an unfair trial.

“Emirati authorities have been violating the rights of [Rumaithi]’s ‘UAE94’ co-defendants (referring to those tried in 2013) for over a decade, and Jordan risks complicity in these abuses if it sends him back to near-certain persecution,” Joey Shea, UAE researcher at HRW, said in a report last week.

Rumaithi holds a Ph.D. in business administration from the Universite Lille Nord-de-France in France and held several administrative positions in the UAE. Emirati authorities have been cracking down on Rumaithi for over a decade over his political views, which are seen as being against the ruling regime in the Gulf nation.

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