Three journalists remain in detention

New York, January 23, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the continued detention of three Jordanian journalists, who have been held without charge since January 16.

Editor-in-chief Nasser Qamash, managing editor Roman Haddad, and writer Mohannad Mubaidin, all with the weekly magazine Al-Hilal, have been detained for the last week after an article written by Mubaidin appeared in the January 14 edition of the magazine. Authorities consider the article, titled “Aisha in the Prophet’s House,” an insult to the family of the prophet Mohammed. The article, which was sexual in nature, described why the prophet preferred Aisha over his other wives.

A lawyer for the journalists, Mohamed Abu Rumman, told CPJ that on January 16, the prosecutor of the State Security Court summoned the three journalists and the magazine’s publisher, Ahmad Salama, for questioning. Salama was released later that day, but Qamash, Haddad, and Mbaidin were ordered detained for 15 days for questioning. The same day, the prosecutor of the State Security Court ordered the magazine closed.

Abu Rumman told CPJ that the three have been accused of “insulting the dignity of the state,” which is a violation of Article 150 of the Penal Code. He said that the three have also been accused of “insulting the heavenly religions,” a violation of Article 273 of the Penal Code. If charged and sentenced, the journalists face prison time.

“These journalists should be released immediately,” said Joel Campagna, CPJ senior program coordinator, “and their magazine should be allowed to resume publication.”