CPJ Protests Jordanian Ban
on Newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi

May 13. 1998

His Excellency Abd al-Salam al-Majali
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Join CPJ's in protesting this ban. Send a fax to: 011-962-6-464-2520

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express grave concern about the recent government-imposed ban on circulation of the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.

On May 12, the Press and Publications Department (PPD) ordered an indefinite halt to the newspaper's distribution in Jordan. Agence France Presse quoted PPD director Bilal al-Tal as saying that the move came in response to Al-Quds al-Arabi's "published reports and analysis which violate the most basic rules of professionalism and objectivity."

Al-Quds al-Arabi has been the target of repeated government harassment in Jordan over the past year. Dozens of issues of the newspaper have been confiscated by the PPD in response to what authorities have deemed unfavorable coverage of political affairs in Jordan. In March, Bassam Badareen, the paper's Amman correspondent, was charged with "distorting Jordan's image abroad," harming state relations with a friendly country, and offending the state&emdash;charges criminalized under the penal code. The case against Badareen stemmed from a series of articles he wrote for Al-Quds al-Arabi in late 1997, dealing with such topics as criticism of the Arab-Israeli peace process and tensions between the government and the Islamist opposition following its boycott of last November's parliamentary elections. Badareen faces up to three years in prison if convicted of the charges.

CPJ, a nonpartisan organization of journalists devoted to upholding press freedom worldwide, views the government-imposed ban on Al-Quds al-Arabi as a flagrant violation of the right to "seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers," as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We respectfully urge Your Excellency to see to it that this ban be rescinded immediately and that Al-Quds al-Arabi be free to report and disseminate news and opinion in Jordan without government interference.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to a reply at your earliest convenience.



Gene Roberts


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