(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Supporters of political activists jailed for slandering His Majesty King Abdullah and inciting unrest said on Saturday that the detainees had started a hunger strike in protest against their ongoing detention, but police denied these claims.
According to family members, three Tafileh activists detained last month began a hunger strike on Thursday.
Um Ammar Qabaleen, mother of jailed activist Majdi Qabaleen, said she learned during a visit to her son on Friday that he and two other activists had begun a hunger strike on Thursday.
"My son told me that he will forgo food and drink until he is released and at least two other prisoners have joined him," she told The Jordan Times.
Thaher Abu Jihad, the lawyer representing the Tafileh residents, also said that two of the jailed activists have begun to refuse food in protest of their referral to the State Security Court, where they face a series of charges that could earn each activist up to three years in jail.
"This is a strike to demand their political and human rights and to bring an end to the persecution of citizens who are expressing their right of opinion," Abu Jihad said.
Public Security Department (PSD) Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammad Khatib, however, said the claims of a hunger strike were baseless and the detainees were eating normally.
Khatib told The Jordan Times on Saturday he had checked with prison officials on the activists' conditions and had been assured that the prisoners were eating and in good health.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing 13 other activists arrested last week during their participation in a protest against the Tafileh residents' detention claimed they have been denied access to their clients.
"These citizens are being denied their basic right to consult with their attorneys, and this is against the law," Abu Jihad said.
The 13 activists are currently being held in the Muwaqqar prison after allegedly raising slogans slandering the King and threatening the "stability of the regime" - charges that can cumulatively earn each detainee up to 10 years in prison.
Security services insist that the 18 detainees raised slogans slandering the King and inciting unrest, in direct violation of several articles of the Penal Code.
Activists maintain that the slogans fell within the boundaries of their right to free speech, accusing authorities of "persecuting" protesters for criticising officials.
The PSD has stressed that the recent arrests do not signify a change in its approach to peaceful protests, pointing out that the vast majority of the demonstrations held in the Kingdom since the early days of the Arab Spring have ended without incident.