ARMAN - Jordanian security forces arrested leading members of the opposition-run teachers union on Saturday, raided its offices and shut it down for two years, escalating a confrontation with a group that has become a leading source of dissent.

Prosecutors charged Nasser Nawasreh, the acting head of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate, with incitement over a speech to supporters last Wednesday that criticised Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz's government. State media said other charges related to allegations of financial and administrative wrongdoing.

Riot police reinforcements were deployed on Saturday near the seat of government in the capital, Amman, and other areas where teacher activists were planning protests. Security forces raided the union's headquarters in the city of Karak.

Translation: The issue is not about the teachers' syndicate, but about the government's attempt to silence outspoken voices and crush everyone who stands before it

The teachers' union responded by calling for a demonstration on Wednesday, during which Nawasra urged authorities to respect their promises.

According to the official Petra news agency, Amman's Prosecutor-General Hassan Abdallat summoned 13 members of the union's council for questioning on "criminal and corruption charges".

Petra did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged "crimes" but quoted Abdallat as saying they included "financial violations".

The prosecutor also issued a gag order on investigations into the case, the agency said.(FA)