SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Jordan arrests two journalists over report on finance minister

Saturday , 20 January 2018
An Amman prosecutor ordered, on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 the arrest of Shadi al-Zinati, the editor-in-chief of independent news website Jfranews and editor Omar Sabra al-Mahrama after Jordanian Finance Minister Omar Malhas filed a complaint against Jfranews, according to news reports and an article by the journalists' employer.

A post on the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera's official Facebook page said that the journalists were arrested over an article published earlier this month about the finance minister. News reports said that the article accused Malhas of tax evasion. The director of the Department of Income and Sales Tax said the report was inaccurate, according to reports.

The prosecutor charged the journalists with violating articles 5, 7, and 38 of the Press and Publication Law, and Article 11 of the Cybercrime Law, according to news reports, regional press freedom groups, and Daoud Kuttab, a regional press freedom advocate based in Jordan.

Jordan's Press and Publication Law sets vague limits for what publications can publish and states that reproduced or quoted press material should be treated as original material. According to Freedom House, the law carries fines of up to US$40,000 for speech deemed to denigrate the government or religion. Those convicted under the Cybercrime Law, which penalizes online defamation, face up to four months in prison and a fine of 5,000 Jordanian dinars (US$7,000).

Journalists held a sit-in at the Jordanian Press Association today demanding the release of the al-Zinati and al-Mahrama, according to news reports.

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