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Jordan urged to release publisher, editor jailed for linking to online video

The International Press Institute (IPI) today urged the Jordanian government to release the publisher and chief editor of an Internet news site who were arrested and jailed for linking to an online video of a man identified as a prince frolicking with women.

Jafra News
publisher Nidhal al-Faraneh and editor Amjad Muala were arrested under state security laws on Sept. 17, accused of harming relations with a foreign country for publishing the link to a YouTube video which showed a man – purportedly a member of the Qatari royal family – lounging, dancing and showering with several women.

If convicted by the State Security Court, Al-Faraneh and Muala could each face up to five years in prison. The men are being held pending a court hearing. A banner on the Jafra News site calls for their release.

“The Jordanian authorities should free the Jafra News executives immediately and if anyone feels aggrieved by linking to an external video that was already widely available through the Internet, Jordan has civil courts where such matters can be adjudicated,” said Barbara Trionfi, IPI press freedom manager. “Bringing the journalists in front of a quasi-military court for endangering state security is excessive and an abuse of the country's state security laws.”

In early October, IPI and 21 other media and human rights organisations urged the king of Jordan to reconsider restrictions placed on Internet news sites, nearly five months after regulators blocked some 300 sites under a new licensing provision of the Press and Publications Law. Jafra News was not among those affected.

In a letter to King Abdullah II , the organisations also called on the Parliament to amend the country's media laws that require the registration of Internet news and information providers.

“By reversing policies that effectively silence independent voices of information, Your Majesty would send a strong message that Jordan respects its international commitments to freedom of information and expression, and would underscore your ministers' stated commitment to press freedom in the country,” said the Oct. 8 letter.

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