January 15, 2002
His Majesty King Abdullah Ibn Hussein
C/o His Excellency Ambassador Dr. Marwan Muasher
3504 International Drive, NW
Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Washington, D.C. 20008
Via facsimile: 202-966-3110
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to protest the recent arrest of Fahd al-Rimawi, editor of the weekly newspaper Al-Majd.
On January 13, according to press reports and CPJ sources, a State Security Court prosecutor in Amman summoned al-Rimawi and accused him of publishing “false information,” an offense under Jordan’s Penal Code. He was subsequently ordered detained for 15 days for questioning.
The arrest resulted from several Al-Majd articles that criticized the government of Prime Minister Ali Aboul Ragheb. One article quoted local sources who claimed, correctly as it turned out, that the government would soon be replaced.
Al-Rimawi is being held in Amman’s Juwaydeh Prison. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence and a stiff fine under new Penal Code provisions.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ views the arrest of Fahd al-Rimawi as a grave threat to press freedom in Jordan. Journalists should never be deprived of their liberty for carrying out their professional work. Such actions violate basic international norms for freedom of expression and can only inhibit the free circulation of news and opinion.
Your Majesty has stated on more than one occasion that the “sky is the limit” for press freedom in Jordan. In this spirit, we urge you to ensure that Fahd al-Rimawi is released immediately.
Ann K. Cooper