AMMAN - Islamist prisoners in Jordan, including several prominent figures linked to al-Qaida, began a hunger strike on Saturday to protest about jail conditions, sources and officials said.
Among the 120 hunger strikers are radical cleric Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain last July after a lengthy legal battle, and Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a leading al-Qaida thinker, the sources said.
The strike began after prison authorities did not meet demands the prisoners issued last week for better access to lawyers and family members, speedier trials and an end to alleged mistreatment and torture during interrogation.
"They have totally rejected the meals and food provided by the state until their demands for better treatment are met," Sheikh Saad Huneity, a Jordanian Salafi jihadist leader who has previously spent years in detention, told Reuters.
Jordan has stepped up arrests of Islamists along its border with Syria in recent months, detaining scores of people trying to cross over to join jihadist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.