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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

MAY 9, 2004
Posted: June 2, 2004

Fahd Al-Rimawi, Al-Majd

Al-Rimawi, editor of the weekly Al-Majd, was detained at Amman's international airport after arriving from the United States, where he had been visiting his son.

He was released that evening and told to report to prosecutors the next day, when when he was detained overnight. The journalist was released the next day after the head of Jordan's Higher Media Council, the head of the journalists syndicate, and the prosecutor of the State Security Court brokered a deal for the journalist's release.

Al-Rimawi told CPJ he was detained in connection with an editorial he wrote for the May 3 edition of Al-Majd that criticized Saudi Arabia and its relationship with United States and quoted information from Plan of Attack, the new book by U.S. journalist Bob Woodward claiming that Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz knew of U.S. plans for war in Iraq before Secretary of State Colin Powell. The editorial also stated that Saudi Arabia would increase oil production, thereby lowering the cost of oil and bolstering President Bush's re-election campaign.

Al-Rimawi was charged with violating Article 118 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes the publication of anything that disturbs Jordan's relations with foreign states. The prosecutor also ordered the paper's suspension.

Per the terms of his release, al-Rimawi agreed to publish an editorial in the following edition of the weekly claiming that he did not intend to harm relations between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The case against him was dropped, and the weekly was allowed to reopen.

In the days following the publication of Al-Rimawi's May 3 editorial, Saudi Arabia agreed to renew its grant to supply oil to Jordan, which had relied on Iraqi oil prior to the U.S. led war on Iraq in March 2003. Journalists told CPJ that the Jordanian government was sensitive to criticism of Saudi Arabia following the agreement, and that the Saudi Embassy in Amman had complained to Jordanian officials about the articles.