(July 9) An American citizen’s rights and maybe life are in imminent danger from the nation of Jordan. The Biden administration should weigh in with every ounce of diplomatic might to secure a delay of any verdict against him.

One need not be an expert in Jordanian law or on details of the case to nonetheless insist that more due process be granted to Bassem Awadallah. His human rights must be protected. Awadallah stands accused of sedition, although by American standards, the allegations wouldn’t seem to fit that definition. Either way, his family, which is represented by former U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives chief Mike Sullivan and former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleges that Awadallah has been denied direct legal representation and subjected to heinous torture. A verdict reportedly is scheduled to be issued on Monday, July 12.

Originally, Awadallah was one of 18 people arrested as part of a supposed plot whereby Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah was thought to be planning a coup attempt against King Abdullah II. Sixteen of the 18 have been released, but not Awadallah, who is a former top Cabinet member for the Hashemite king. He signed a confession — his family says it was coerced — supposedly admitting he “sought to re-establish his residency in Jerusalem in order to conduct real estate transactions in the city.” The “sedition,” which some perhaps would call mere advocacy, diplomacy, or commerce, apparently involved actions that would “weaken … the Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”

This all sounds rather convoluted to American ears.

Still, Awadallah chose to work in the Jordanian government and abide by its laws, so most Americans are not in a position to adjudge the precise legal charges. Nonetheless, we know several things that should absolutely compel immediate, forceful diplomatic action by the U.S. government — action not to direct a verdict, but to delay indefinitely a verdict until it can be ascertained that Awadallah’s basic human rights are not being denied….

[The rest of the column is here, but also note this: After this column was published, Jordan sentenced Awadallah to 15 years in prison, without letting him call witnesses in his defense. His lawyers say they will appeal the sentence. Still no comment from the Biden administration.]


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