Weekly banned

New York, September 25, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply troubled that Jordanian authorities banned the September 23 issue of the private weekly Al-Wihda.

According Mowaffaq Mahadeen, a managing editor at Al-Wihda, and independent sources in the capital, Amman, the general prosecutor of the State Security Court ordered the ban.

Mahadeen told CPJ that the issue was banned prior to being printed and distributed. Like many other papers in Jordan, Al-Wihda is printed at the offices of larger publications that own the printers. Mahadeen said that the editor of the paper received a call from the prosecutor general demanding that certain articles be removed before the paper could appear on newsstands. When Al-Wihda editors refused, the issue was banned.

Sources in Amman told CPJ that while Jordan’s Press Law does not technically allow prior censorship, it is common for some employees, who work for printers, to “tip off” authorities about potentially sensitive articles in private newspapers.

Mahadeen told CPJ that he believes that the offending article in the banned issue was about the practice of torture in Jordan.

“Prior censorship—whether official or unofficial—has a chilling effect on press freedom,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We urge Jordanian authorities to cease this practice and to remove the ban on Al-Wihda.”