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Press Freedom

Jordanian journalist arrested over Royal Court allegations

Jordan has arrested a journalist who published allegations that the country’s Royal Court abused its power by protecting a former cabinet minister from indictment. Journalists have demonstrated to demand his release.

Authorities detained Jamal Muhataseb, owner of Jordanian news website Gerasanews.com, on Monday after he published an article in which it was alleged that the Royal Court had intervened to stop the indictment of a former minister.

Muhataseb, also chief editor of the Marra weekly newspaper faces charges of disseminating "anti-regime sentiment," according to colleagues.

Jordan's Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) condemned the arrest.

"The state security court should not look into issues related to press and publication. We call for the immediate release of Muhtaseb. His detention violates press freedom," said the head of the Jordanian Press Association Tareq Momani.

'Contradiction' of press freedom promises

The CDFJ described the detention of Muhatseb as a "contradiction" of repeated pledges by monarch King Abdullah II to maintain "sky-high" press freedoms in the country

Muhatseb's colleagues also criticized the fact that the allegations against the journalist were being dealt with by the State Security Court, a military tribunal.

Around 50 journalists held a sit-in protest at the press association's headquarters in the capital Amman on Monday evening, demanding Muhataseb's immediate release.

On Sunday, Jordanian lawmakers voted not to indict former public housing minister Sahel Majali on charges of corruption.

Majali was involved with the country's Decent Housing for Decent Living initiative, a multi-billion scheme to provide affordable housing to low-income families. The scheme failed, mainly because of alleged corruption that led to inflated construction costs.

rc/pfd (AFP, dpa)