Six journalists prosecuted in Jordan in past month
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by a wave of press freedom violations in Jordan, in which six journalists have been arrested and/or charged in the past month. The Jordanian authorities must allow journalists to work freely, RSF says.
The latest victim was Ahmed Hassan Al-Zoubi, a Jordanian journalist who is a columnist with the website Sawaleif. On 24 March, police intercepted the vehicle taking him to Amman airport to catch a flight to Istanbul. After confiscating his phone and ID papers, they took him to security headquarters and then released him without charge two hours later.
Two other Jordanian journalists were arrested on “cyber-crime” charges on arriving at Amman airport on international flights earlier in March.
The first was Taghreed Risheq, who used to be the daily Al-Ghad’s Washington correspondent and is now Arabic media manager at the NGO Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). After her arrest on arrival on 7 March, she was questioned for 12 hours about a tweet (posted in January and now deleted) in which she criticised a newspaper article mocking the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The second was Amman.net editor Daoud Kuttab, who was detained for 90 minutes at the airport on 8 March and was told that a warrant had been issued for his arrest as a result of a complaint filed by a US-Jordanian businessman over an investigative story he wrote in 2019. He was released after being ordered to appear in court on 13 March, but RSF has learned that the hearing was postponed because the plaintiff did not show up.
“This wave of arrests and charges against journalists in the space of a month is very worrying,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head RSF’s Middle East desk. “The Jordanian authorities must not tolerate misuse of defamation or cyber-crime laws that could result in police abuses.”
Three other investigative journalists of various nationalities who prefer not to be named have been charged with “spreading fake news” in connection with a story related to the Pandora Papers. A member of their team was also arrested at Amman airport and then released on bail.
Jordan is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.