19.02.03 - Roman Haddad and Nasser Qamash have been granted substitution sentences. The writer of the article in question, Muhannad Mbeidin, remains in jail. Reporters Without Borders has asked King Abdallah II of Jordan to pardon the three journalists of the weekly Al-Hilal, sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to six months for "libeling Islam's prophet and disparaging the dignity of the State'" and to allow the newspaper to reopen.
Two of the three journalists of the weekly Al-Hilal sentenced to prison for "libelling Islam's prophet" have been granted substitution sentences. Roman Haddad and Nasser Qamash have been released by paying respectively 60 and 120 Jordanian dinar fines (90 and 180 dollars). The writer of the article in question, Muhannad Mbeidin, sentenced to six months prison, remains in jail since the penal code does not allow sentences over three months to be commuted ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 18.02.03 - In a letter sent to King Abdallah II of Jordan, Reporters Without Borders protested against the sentencing on 17 February 2003 of three journalists to prison terms ranging from two to six months for "libelling Islam's prophet and disparaging the dignity of the State". The organisation has called for the three Al-Hilal journalists to be pardoned and rehabilitated, the newspaper to be reopened and the penal proceedings before the State Security Court for press crimes to be cancelled. "This verdict is of disproportionate severity in view of the facts and tarnishes the image of the Jordanian kingdom", emphasised Robert Ménard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders. "The amendments to the penal code of 2001 have considerably lessened press freedom in the country and, for the first time, a publication has been shut on the basis of these iniquitous laws. Lastly, it is inadmissible that press crimes be judged before a military court where judgments are irrevocable." The article in question, entitled "Aisha in the Prophet's home", appeared in the weekly Al-Hilal on 14 January 2003, discussing Prophet Mohammed's sexual relations. Its author, Muhannad Mbeidin, was sentenced to six months prison. Al-Hilal's Managing Editor, Roman Haddad, and Chief Editor, Nasser Qamash, were respectively sentenced to two and three months prison terms. The military judge also sentenced the weekly to a two months closure period starting 16 January 2003, the date of its confiscation. The three journalists pleaded innocent but have been jailed since 16 January 2003 at Jweideh prison.