New York, December 27, 2020—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Jordanian authorities to release Jamal Haddad, publisher of the news website Alwakaai, and condemns the use of a national security prosecution to censor coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On December 24, Haddad was summoned and detained pending investigation under the country’s anti-terrorism law by the National Security Prosecutor, according to the Jordan Press Association, and news reports. Two days earlier, Haddad published an editorial in Alwakaai that raised questions about government officials receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it was not yet available to the general public.
“Jordanian authorities could have responded to the legitimate concerns raised by Jamal Haddad in a transparent and open manner,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “By invoking terrorism and national security, the authorities aim to intimidate Haddad and other journalists who question the government response to the pandemic. Haddad must be released immediately.”
Jordanian Minister of Media Affairs Ali Al Ayed did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Jordanian authorities arrested at least three other journalists earliest in the year because of their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Bangladeshi journalist Selim Akash and two journalists from the privately owned satellite station Roya TV, general manager Fares Sayegh and news director Mohammad Alkhalidi, CPJ documented.