26 February 2003


Death sentence against Jordanian journalist upheld

Incident details

Firas al-Majali



(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 25 February 2003 CPJ press release:

QATAR: Death sentence against Jordanian journalist upheld

New York, February 25, 2003-The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about an appeals court ruling yesterday in Qatar's capital, Doha, confirming a death sentence against Jordanian journalist Firas al-Majali on charges of espionage.

Al-Majali, a news editor for Qatari state television, has been in detention since January 2002. He was originally sentenced to death on charges of spying on Qatar for Jordan on October 22, 2002.

According to Issa al-Mannai, al-Majali's lawyer, the accusations of espionage stemmed from e-mails al-Majali allegedly sent to Jordanian intelligence officials. Qatari authorities contend that the e-mails contained sensitive information about U.S. troop activities in Qatar, Qatar's ruling family, and relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Al-Mannai said that the information in the e-mails, which he claimed could not be traced to al-Majali, was public. The lawyer told CPJ that al-Majali had originally confessed to the charge, but later rescinded his confession.

Relations between Jordan and Qatar have been strained since June 2001 when Qatari authorities deported a Jordanian national-who had been living in exile in Qatar because of his alleged activities in the Palestinian militant group Hamas-back to Jordan. Relations were further strained in August 2002 when Jordan banned the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera from operating in the country after the station broadcast a program that Jordanian authorities considered an insult to the Jordanian royal family.

Some observers think that al-Majali's Jordanian citizenship, not his journalistic activities, may be the reason behind the accusations of espionage.

Qatar's Emir must approve the death sentence and has the power to pardon al-Majali.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information about press conditions in Qatar, visit www.cpj.org.">http://www.cpj.org">www.cpj.org.


Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 465 9568
More from Qatar
  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Qatar

    In May [2016], security officials detained three journalists from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation who were filming a migrant workers’ soccer tournament and, before releasing the group, confiscated their footage and forced them to confess to trespassing and filming without permission.

  • Operation Decisive Storm strikes freedom of expression in Yemen & the Gulf

    An ANHRI report on the impact of the war on Yemen on freedom of expression

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Qatar

    In March, security agents temporarily detained a German sports reporter and his team for filming migrant workers without permission, confiscating their equipment and deleting their footage