AMMAN  - Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday ordered the release of 19 political activists charged with insulting him during pro-reform demonstrations last month, a palace official said. “The king instructed the government to take all necessary measures as soon as possible to release the jailed activists,” some of them from the southern city of Tafileh, he told AFP. “The decision was taken after the king met today with Tafileh’s tribal leaders, who urged the king to pardon the activists.” Jordanian military prosecutors have accused the young activists of incitement against the regime, rioting and insulting the king. Six of them were arrested in mid-March after a demonstration in Tafileh.

Following the king’s instructions, the military state security court told the state-run Petra news agency it will release later Sunday 38 people arrested after protests that were held in Amman and Tafileh.

It was not clear if the 19 detainees would be among them.

Jordan’s opposition Islamists and other political movements as well as international human rights organisations have repeatedly demanded the authorities free the activists.

In March, the court released an 18-year-old political activist from jail after the king pardoned him for burning a picture of the monarch.

Jordanians have been protesting since January 2011 to demand sweeping political and economic reforms and an end to corruption.