The Jordanian information minister has withdrawn accreditation in Amman for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV, closing down the office in the capital. The channel is accused of "provoking sedition in the kingdom" and "defaming" the royal family. He also prohibited its correspondants from working inside Jordan and warned them that they would be prosecuted if they did not submit to the order.
On 11 August 2002, the authorities at Amman airport seized 29 video cassettes belonging to the sports correspondent of the television channel Al Jazira, who was on his way to Qatar. The confiscation of the tapes follows a decision taken by the Jordanian government on 7 August to withdraw accreditation from the Qatar channel, on the grounds that it had defamed Jordan and the country's royal family. According to the journalist, the authorities want to check whether the pictures were filmed before Al Jazira journalists were banned from working in Jordan. The tapes will be returned to him if the pictures date from before 7 August. ______________________________________________________________ The Jordanian information ministry has withdrawn accreditation in Amman for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV, closing down the office in the capital. The channel is accused of "provoking sedition in the kingdom" and "defaming" the royal family. "Once again Al-Jazeera has been silenced in the Arab world. This censorship is unacceptable for a country that seeks to be seen internationally as respecting freedom of expression," said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders in a letter to information ministry Mohammad Adwan. "We urge you to withdraw this measure and to grant Al Jazeera and its journalists a fresh accreditation," he added. The information ministry announced its decision to effectively close the Al-Jazeera bureau in the Jordan Multimedia Production building on 7 August, accusing it of "continuously intends to harm Jordan and its national stands whether directly or indirectly". Information minister Mohammad Adwan warned its four correspondents working in Jordan that they would be prosecuted if they did not submit to the order. It followed the broadcast the previous evening of a political programme "Opposite Direction". One of the participants in the debate, a US university professor of Palestinian origin, strongly criticised the late King Hussein of Jordan, whom he described as being in the pay of the United States. He also accused Jordan of having pro-Israeli policies. In an interview with AFP, Mohammad Adwan said that the broadcast had "surpassed all kinds of decency in its programms by attacking the nation's leaders and its nobilities". He said that remarks by the participants and the presenter of the programme constituted "pure defamation against Jordan and the royal family" and he concluded that, "there is no doubt today that Al-Jazeera has adopted a conscious anti-Jordan policy". Mohammed Jassem Al-Ali, managing editor of Al-Jazeera said he regretted the decision of the Jordanian information ministry, but that the channel "cannot gag the mouths of people". "We had not intended to offend Jordan or to harm its relations with Arab countries", he said. Reporters Without Borders recalled that at the start of the year Al-Jazeera was strongly criticised by Saudi Arabia and suffered censorship in Bahrain last March and in Iraq in July. The Jordanian government closed its bureau in Amman on a previous occasion between November 1998 and April 1999. At that time channel was accused of "deliberately and repeatedly insulting the Jordanian people and regime".