(Freedom House/IFEX) - According to Freedom House, it was reported on 21
April 1998 that Yousef Gheishan, the satirical writer at the weekly "Abed
Rabboh", was released on 18 April 1998, after six days of detention.
Gheishan was arrested at his home on 11 April 1998 by security agents, who
searched the house and confiscated everything that had his handwriting, as
well as his files and archives. No reason was given for the arrest at the
**Updates IFEX alerts of 16 April 1998**
Gheishan, who is also a journalist working for the independent Arabic daily
"Al Arab Al Yawm", said his arrest was ordered by the military prosecutor
general on charges of lese majeste and distribution of anti-government
leaflets in the town of Madaba (southwest of Amman). Gheishan, a converted
Christian, told the "Jordan Times": "I was surprised by the charges of
heading an Islamic opposition group and distributing leaflets slandering the
government and calling for a coup against it." He stressed that he had no
relation to any Islamic group.
Gheishan said he denied the charges against him in three interrogation
sessions held during his detention at the headquarters of the General
Intelligence Department. According to the "Jordan Times", he said he was
treated very well, and was released on 18 April 1998, after charges against
him were dropped. "Most of my documents and articles were returned to me
after my release, except a couple of books and several documents that
remained with the intelligence department," he said.
Gheishan, who also writes satirical columns for the weekly "Al Bilad", said
his arrest was a warning to dissuade him from writing articles critical of
the government. He thanked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information
Abdullah Ensour, who helped secure his release before the Easter holiday (19
April 1998), and expressed appreciation to the media and human rights
organisations for their coverage and support.
In March 1998, the editor of "Abed Rabboh", Abdul Hadi Raji Majali, was
detained by security forces for four days. He said at the time that his
arrest was because he ran a satirical picture of Prime Minister Abdul Salam
Majali and Minister of Interior Nathir Rashid on the front page of the
weeklyâs 47th issue. "Abed Rabboh", the only satirical weekly in Jordan, was
the first to shut down after the government passed tough amendments to the
1993 temporary Press and Publications Law in May 1997, while Parliament was
in recess. According to the "Jordan Times", the law was described both home
and abroad as stifling "freedom of expression." The weekly resumed
publication in February 1998, after the law was annulled by the High Court
of Justice and declared unconstitutional.