The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its full support for Jordanian journalists who have been protesting the arrest of a news websites editor. Reports say that Jamal Muhtaseb was detained on the orders of the general prosecutor of the State Security Court following publication on his website of an article over alleged involvement of the Palace in blocking action against a former minister who has been criticised in a housing scandal.
"Journalists in Jordan are rightly concerned over this outrageous abuse of power by the prosecution services," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "This litigation only serves to intimidate journalists and we urge the authorities to release Muhtaseb and enter dialogue with journalists' leaders to address media offences."
According to the Jordanian Press Association (JPA), an IFJ affiliate, Jamal Muhtaseb was detained for 14 days because of an article he had published quoting an unidentified member of the Jordanian Parliament who claimed that King Abdullah of blocking the Lower House from condemning a former minister of public works and housing Sahel Majali in the Decent Housing file.
The Jordanian Press Association (JPA) issued a statement on Monday, calling for the release of Muhtaseb and warning that his detention dealt a blow to the progress on press freedom. The JPA also organised a sit-in protest at its headquarters which was attended by some 100 journalists.
The Journalists' leaders particularly denounced the fact that Muhtaseb is being detained by the State Security Court 's prosecutor for press offences, something King Abdullah had described as a red line. The JPA said that "Journalists should be tried before civil courts and if found guilty should be held accountable, but we are against arrest and imprisonment in press and publications cases, which contradicts Royal directives."
The IFJ shares the JPA concerns over press freedom in the Kingdom amid fears of the return to state manipulation and control of media despite the reform of the media law promoting free press.
"We urge the authorities to lift the shadow of fear and intimidation which is falling over journalism in Jordan," added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "The impressive record of the JPA in raising the professional standards in journalism is at risk of being rolled back due to lack of space for independent reporting."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries