Jordan pardons 18 activists in anti-king protest

By DALE GAVLAK | October 25, 2012 | 6:33 AM EDT

In this photo released by the Jordanian Royal Palace, Jordan's King Abdullah II gives a speech in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. The foiling of a planned Islamist terror plot underscores a new subplot in the story of the Arab Spring: Things are heating up for Jordan's King Abdullah II, a Western-oriented monarch who has run a business-friendly, pragmatic monarchy with some trappings of democracy. (AP Photo/Jordanian Royal Palace, Yousef Allan)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — After a pardon from the king, Jordan has released 18 activists arrested during a protest last month when they allegedly chanted against the country's monarch.

A Jordanian prosecutor said Thursday that two other men detained with the group remain in custody because they are not part of the youth activist movement. The prosecutor spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

There have been several incidents recently with activists and media commentators charged with defaming King Abdullah II.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly urged Jordan to abolish laws criminalizing peaceful free speech and assembly.

Under Jordan's current law, the state security court has jurisdiction over speech-related crimes, including insulting the king — a taboo punishable by up to three years in jail.