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Cagle Cartoonist Emad Hajjaj Arrested, Faces 5 Years in Prison

Update 8/30/20: Emad is freed. He still faces trial and a possible two years in prison for his cartoon. Read more here.

My friend and longtime CagleCartoonist Emad Hajjaj was arrested Wednesday in his home country of Jordan. He is charged with the “cybercrime” of “insulting an Arab country” and faces up to five years in prison for drawing an “offensive” cartoon criticizing Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. Emad was arrested five hours after posting the cartoon to his newspaper site. has syndicated Emad’s work to newspapers in America and around the world for the past fifteen years. He is a dear friend of mine and of many of the CagleCartoonists who have partied with Emad on our annual trips to the cartoon festival in St Just le Martel, France.  Emad is the president of the Jordanian Cartoonists Association and cartoonists in Jordan have been protesting Emad’s arrest.

Emad was arrested just five hours after posting the cartoon to his newspaper’s Web site. Emad draws for the Al- Araby newspaper in London which has posted an article about his arrest. (Al-Araby is a longtime subscriber to

Emad’s brother Osama Hajjaj, who is also an editorial cartoonist that syndicates, sent me a photo of Emad’s arrest.

Emad’s cartoon depicts UAE leader, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly called “MBZ”, holding an Israeli dove that has spit on his face, with the spittle in the shape of a US F-35 fighter jet and labeled “spit 35” in Arabic. The US recently brokered a treaty between Israel and the UAE, and in a separate but possibly related deal the US agreed to sell advanced F-35 jets to the UAE. Israel is opposing the sale, arguing that Israel’s defense advantage in the region would be compromised if UAE gets the jets. Emad’s drawing shows that Israel has embarrassed MBZ by blocking the sale after UAE agreed to the peace deal

Al-Araby writes that Emad was referred to the “notorious State Security Court” by Amman’s Attorney General. “The SSC – whose judges are appointed by the prime minister – has jurisdiction over crimes including drugs, explosives, weapons, espionage and high treason, however it has increasingly been used to try peaceful protesters and government critics.”

“The country’s infamous 2015 cybercrimes law was widely criticized by rights groups, who say it is a pretext to crack down on any individual who criticizes the government. Amendments added to the law in 2018 also made the distribution of articles considered slanderous punishable with a prison sentence.”

Emad is being held in jail for up to fourteen days, pending the conclusion of an investigation, after that Emad may face charges and a possible five year prison sentence.

UPDATED 8/27/20 1:00pm PDT:  According to a Committee to Protect Journalists article quoting the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists director, Nidal Mansour, Emad was brought to the prosecutor’s office today and charged with “disturbing relations with a sister country” under the country’s counter-terrorism law,” “If convicted, Hajjaj could face a minimum of 10 years hard labor, according to 2014 amendments to the counter-terrorism law.” “The public prosecutor’s office ordered Hajjaj to be detained for 14 days and transferred him to Salt Prison, northwest of Amman.”

Read CagleCartoonist David Fitzsimmons’ column about his friend Emad.

The Times of Israel has an excellent article about Emad’s arrest.

This Washington Post article outlines the history hypocrisy of Jordan’s claims to have a free press as they jailed Emad.

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has posted an alert on Emad’s arrest.

In the group photo below, Emad is at the right, I’m second from the right and Emad’s cartoonist brother Osama is second from the left. We’re pictured with Mexican cartoonists at CartónClub’s La Linea del Fuego exhibition at the El Universal newspaper in Mexico City a couple of years ago. Emad is friends with cartoonists around the globe and we’ve had a great time traveling together to exotic, cartooning destinations. Since Emad is everyone’s friend in our tight-knit, global community of editorial cartoonists, his arrest comes as a quite a shock in our small world.

Our reader supported site,, still needs you!  Journalism is threatened with the pandemic that has shuttered newspaper advertisers. Some pundits predict that a large percentage of newspapers won’t survive the pandemic economic slump, and as newspapers sink, so do editorial cartoonists who depend on newspapers, and along with them, our site, that our small, sinking syndicate largely supports, along with our fans.

The world needs political cartoonists more now than ever. Please consider supporting and visit  We need you! Don’t let the cartoons die!

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Julian Assange Trapped

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, was captured by British authorities this week when the government of Ecuador decided they had enough of him, and invited the cops inside tomato the arrest. The president of Ecuador described Assange as a “pebble in his shoe.” Assange was hiding out in the embassy for seven years to avoid being arrested, but he was such a bad house guest that the Ecuadorians were eager to get rid of him. Assange had sued his hosts, and expressed his frustration by rubbing his feces on the walls. It also seems to annoy the Ecuadorians that Assange didn’t clean up after his cat. I think that’s funny.

Here’s my Assange in a rat-trap cartoon.

Yes, he looks different. He grew a white beard and let his hair grow out, tied back tightly in a little “man-bun.” With that big white beard, I had to make him into a white rat.

Here are a couple of my favorite Julian Assange cartoons, from before the beard.

This one is a urine leaking Assange from Taylor Jones.


I love the simplicity and the odd angle of this Assange by my buddy, Angel Boligan.

I love this Assange by Kap from Barcelona.