Jordan: Cartoonist arrested for mocking UAE-Israel deal amid crackdown on press freedom

Cartoonist Emad Hajjaj was arrested on Wednesday August 26 for "disturbing relations with a sister country” in a cartoon. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns this arrest and recent attacks on media freedom in Jordan and demands Emad Hajjaj’s immediate release.

Imad Hajjaj's cartoon

Update: Emad Hajjaj was released on August 30 and will still face trial for "slander and libel".

Published in Al Araby Al Jadeed, the cartoon mocked the recent deal the United Arab Emirates struck with Israel. Hajjaj was referred to the State Security Court yesterday, his trial will be held under the antiterrorism law. 

Hajjaj’s arrest comes amid growing crackdown on freedom of information and union rights in Jordan. On July 25, the Jordanian Teachers Association was closed on shaky grounds, and police arrested several of its leaders. At the same time, authorities imposed a media blackout on the media coverage of protests over the union's closure - which had spread to several cities - , as well as the coverage of subsequent trials.  

On August 18, the IFJ joined the Education International (EI)’s call to release leaders of the Jordanian Teacher Association and to end the media blackout. Union leaders were released on bail on August 23, but the media blackout is still in force. 

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: " These unfortunate developments reveal a rapid and severe deterioration of press freedom and union rights in Jordan. The media blackout crushes journalists’ ability to report on issues of the utmost importance, and restricts people’s right to engage in a democratic debate. Jordan must immediately lift the media blackout and release Emad Hajjaj  ".

For further information contact IFJ Middle East & Arab World on +32 (0) 2 235 22 11

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the Middle East and Arab World IFJ regional office on Twitter (in Arab): @IFJ_AR