Two Jordanian journalists jailed for 2 days for publication of photomontage

An Amman prosecutor on December 10, 2018, ordered the arrest of Mohammad al-Wakeel, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the news website Al-Wakeel News, and intern editor Ghadir al-Rabihat on charges of inciting sectarian strife after a complaint was filed over an altered image of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” on the site’s Facebook account, according to news reports, the journalists’ employer, and the regional press freedom group Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ ).

The image showed celebrity Turkish chef Nusret Gokce standing behind Jesus and making a salt-sprinkling gesture for which he is known, while one of the disciples in the image displayed a tattoo of Jesus’ face on his leg, according to news reports.

A December 11 statement by CDFJ said that Al-Wakeel and Al-Rabihat were remanded in custody at Jweideh prison, east of Amman, and called for the journalists’ release, since they had immediately withdrawn the image from the publication’s Facebook account and apologized for it.

A sit-in was held in front of the Jordanian Press Association on December 12 to call for the pair’s release and to protest the use of pretrial detention as punishment, according to videos and pictures posted by the journalists’ employer and news reports. A separate sit-in was held December 11 in Amman’s Al-Tafayleh neighborhood to protest the arrest of Ghadir Al-Rabihat, according to news reports.

Al-Wakeel and Al-Rabihat were released on bail on December 12, according to news reports.