Target: King Abdullah of Jordan
Goal: Release journalists Nidhal al-Fara’neh and Amjad Mu’ala
A video released by the Jafra news website depicts a prince of Qatari sitting, showering, and dancing with various women. Authorities were able to arrest Jafra news’ chief editor and publisher, Nidhal al Fara’neh and Amjad Mu’ala, on vague charges of “disturbing relations with a foreign state.” Jafra news states that they were not involved in the production of the video and that it was hosted on YouTube, but because the news station promoted the video, it has lead to the arrest al-Fara’neh and Mu’ala.
Laws in Jordan are vague enough that police can easily arrest anyone based on their opinions or expressions. This is a huge violation of freedom of speech and can place those who criticize the state’s leaders, policies, and officials in jail. Many Jordanian authorities are speaking about reform, but it is highly hypocritical of the nation to arrest those who are simply publishing news. Fifteen police officers were summoned for the raid on Jafra news, but al-Fara’neh and Mu’ala were nowhere to be seen. An employee of Jafra news was informed about the video and told officers that the company took no part in its production. The third party remains unknown. Later in the evening police found their suspects and arrested them.
On September 18, 2013, al-Fara’neh and Mu’ala were charged with violating Jordan’s penal code which states “anyone who engages in acts, writings, or speeches not approved by the government that would subject Jordan to the danger of violent acts or disturb its relations with a foreign state” are punishable by law. At minimum the sentence is five years in prison. The case has been transferred to Jordan’s military State Security Court, where al-Fara’neh’s and Mu’ala’s lawyers are currently battling for their freedom. Unlike many other news agency in Jordan, Jafra news had complied with the new regulation and press laws of 2012. It is extremely unfortunate and immoral that Jordan is demanding all news agency go through this registration process; even though Jordan’s constitution states that freedom of expression is legal, there are other laws that nullify this ruling.
Sign the petition below and demand for these journalists’ release. They had nothing to do with the video, which was published by an unknown third party. A news station should be able to report on any news, whether or not it sits well with the government.
Dear King Abdullah,
You have talked of reforms for your country, and this I commend. However, you speak these words and haven’t put them into action. Two journalists by the names of Nidhal al-Fara’neh and Amjad Mu’ala – publisher and editor for Jafra news – have been arrested and are currently on trial for promoting a YouTube video on their website. The company has stated that they were not involved in the production of the video, indeed, they actually do not know who the third party responsible for making it is. And yet your country is choosing to prosecute these journalists for something they haven’t made themselves.
I understand that your nation has regulations for news stations to comply with, and Jafra news has completed its registration. Again, for someone who speaks of reform I do not understand why you are violating your people’s freedom of expression. Your credibility for reform is shattered by focusing on a case as trivial as this. I implore you to release these journalists for doing their job, they do not deserve to be sentenced to jail for a video they did not even produce.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mike Wheatley via Silicon Angle