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Journalist arrested for "harming image of the state"

(RSF/IFEX) - On 18 March 2002, RSF expressed its concern about the arrest of Hashem al-Khalidi, editor of the Jordanian weekly "Al-Bilad", on the grounds that he "spread news that harmed the image of the state and its leaders". While calling for the journalist's immediate release, RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard stated, "this new arrest shows journalists cannot freely publish material that is aimed at informing the public about scandals involving the government. It is also an example of the bad effects of the new press law approved last October."

RSF has learned that Al-Khalidi surrendered to the authorities on 17 March, a few days after the publication of an article in his newspaper about an insurance scandal. His arrest was ordered the previous day by the State Security Court's chief prosecutor, Colonel Muhamad Hijazi, who then interrogated the editor and decided to detain him for a further two weeks.

The article stated that embezzlement of public funds was systematic within the government. Certain unnamed ministers were said to be profiting financially from a government decision to double vehicle insurance levies.

Former member of parliament Tujan Faisal has also been detained since 16 March, accused of the same offence, after publishing an article on the Arab Times website about the same scandal.

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