News

April 14, 2020

Two Jordanian TV journalists arrested after broadcasting criticism of lockdown

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of two senior Jordanian TV journalists who have been arrested over a news report about the economic impact of a lockdown ordered by the government to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Roya TV general manager Fares Sayegh and news director Mohammad Alkhalidi were placed in detention on 9 April for 14 days after being questioned by the department of public prosecutions.

 

Their arrests were prompted by a news report showing people on the street complaining about their inability to work as a result of the lockdown ordered under the public health emergency declared by the government. It prevents employees in most sectors of the economy from working.

 

“We call on the Jordanian authorities to release Fares Sayegh and Mohammad Alkhalidi,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “During the pandemic, journalists must be able to report the reality at the grassroots without risk of being held responsible for what interviewees say or without risk of any kind of external interference.”

 

The authorities have not yet said what charges are being brought against the two journalists. But several sources told RSF that they could be based on a comment made by one of the persons interviewed, who said: "What should I do now? Sell drugs? Steal? This is all I have left.” This could be interpreted as promoting drug trafficking,” the sources said.

 

Jordan is ranked 130th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.