Beirut, August 18, 2022 – Jordanian authorities should immediately release journalist Adnan Al-Rousan and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On Monday, August 15, seven unidentified men, including two in military uniform, arrested Al-Rousan, a prominent Jordanian columnist who writes critically about the government on Facebook, from his home in Amman according to a post on his Facebook page with information attributed to his family after his arrest, as well as news reports.
News reports said the Jordanian public prosecutor ordered Al-Rousan’s arrest because he allegedly violated Jordan’s cybercrime law by writing articles “insulting to Jordan” and “offensive to the national approach and fabric, and insulting the cohesion of Jordanian society and state institutions.”
In a post on Al-Rousan’s Facebook page, his family said that the journalist will be held at Marka prison in Amman for a week, and will be charged with unspecified cybercrime offenses over his last two Facebook posts. The most recent one, on August 14, was directed at King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, saying “Jordan isn’t your property, it’s for us Jordanians.” The second most recent one, on August 10, blamed the king for poor living conditions and said the king failed to “give justice to the oppressed.”
CPJ was unable to determine if Al-Rousan has been officially charged; people convicted of breaking the cybercrime law face a range of penalties depending on the crime.
“Jordanian authorities should immediately release columnist Adnan Al-Rousan and cease prosecuting journalists for their criticism of the king or government policies,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour, in Washington D.C. “Journalists must be allowed to reveal the truth about what’s happening in their country and hold officials responsible to account, without any fear of retaliation.”
Al-Rousan regularly publishes political commentary on his Facebook page, where he counts 35,000 likes and 37,000 followers. He contributed to the independent local news website Ammon from 2006 to 2018.
CPJ contacted Al-Rousan’s family via his Facebook page, and his email address listed on that page, but did not receive any response.
CPJ contacted Jordanian Minister of Information Faysal Shabboul and his secretary Dina Daoud via messaging app, but did not receive any response.
CPJ also emailed Dima Al-Moumani, a media and communications official from the king’s office with the Royal Hashemite Court, but did not receive a response.
CPJ was unable to locate contact information for the Jordanian public prosecutor.