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For Immediate Release
March 28, 1997

Joel Campagna (212) 465-9344 x120
Judith Leynse (212) 465-9344 x105

CPJ Calls for King Hussein to Halt State Prosecution of Journalists

New York, N.Y., March 28 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today urged Jordan’s King Hussein to take immediate action to prevent the ongoing arrest and prosecution of journalists who dare to report news and opinions critical of the government or Jordanian society.

In a letter to King Hussein sent in advance of his scheduled meeting in Washington Tuesday with President Bill Clinton, CPJ called on the Jordanian leader to “cease immediately the arrest and criminal prosecution of journalists for the practice of their profession.” The New York-based independent press freedom group asked for the repeal of articles of the 1993 Press and Publications Law “that directly threaten press freedom and contravene international human rights standards for a free press.” Under the restrictive, vaguely worded law any news that “offends the King or the Royal Family,” “damages national unity” or “foments hatred” becomes a criminal act, allowing state prosecutors to target journalists with libel suits, detention and fines.

“These actions against press freedom call into question King Hussein’s international image as a tolerant leader,” said CPJ’s executive director, William A. Orme, Jr. “We urge him to direct all possible attention to ending the state prosecution of journalists.”

The committee’s letter--the second in six months--called attention to the cases of seven journalists, two currently on trial, two appealing prison sentences handed down in January, and two arrested and another charged this year who await trial. They are:

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