December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Jordan

Jordan May 3, 2011

H.M. King Abdullah II
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
c/o Embassy of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C.  20008
Fax: (202) 966.3110

Your Majesty:

Amid the turmoil of the Middle East, Jordan has stood as a place for rational discussion of critical issues.  But there is evidence that position is being undermined by forces within your government who are intimidating and threatening the press at a time when free expression is more necessary than ever.

We at the Overseas Press Club of America urge you to reverse this trend.  We refer to the February 6 hacking attack on Ammon News, a popular website that published a statement from 36 tribal leaders calling for reforms.

According to Sameer al-Hiyari, Ammon’s editor-in-chief, and Basel Okoor, the managing editor, the hacking took place after she was warned by government security agents to remove the statement which they called a threat to national security.  By hacking in, the government deleted the statement calling for reforms and froze further email communication.  According to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), readers were directed to a web page that said: “The site was hacked because you work against the security of Jordan.”  The site was later restored but threats continued into the week, according to the CPJ account.

Similarly, according to CPJ, Yasser Abu Hilala, Al-Jazeera‘s Amman bureau chief, said that his office received death threats via telephone and that pages were created on Facebook to incite hatred against him personally.  He said the attack came shortly after the network covered reform demonstrations in Amman.

Last year, Allofjo another site complained it was hacked a number of times when stories criticizing the government were posted.  Its editor blamed your government for the attacks.

Some 52 Jordanian journalists recently condemned the attacks on independent web sites and have privately said they feel personally threatened by Jordanian state security forces.

Your Majesty, it is time for you to take a stand against those officials who threaten journalists and approve the hacking of web sites.  No official should be allowed to intimidate those trying to reflect the various views of reformers.  As JPA President Tareq Momani said after your talk, the press should “respect all views.”

By fully endorsing a free press, you raise Jordan’s standards in the face of declining Arab states, demonstrate that open expression undergirds, rather than undermines strong leadership and shows that it is the only true recourse against the hostility and upheaval now challenging weak Arab leaders.

We thank you in advance for your consideration and respectfully urge you to act swiftly in behalf of Jordanian press freedom.

Respectfully yours,

Robert J. Dowling                                                                                   
Jeremy Main
Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Marouf Bakhit
Prime Minister
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
c/o The Embassy of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C.  20008

H.E. Atef Tal
Minister of Information and Communications Technology
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
c/o Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 252
New York, NY  10017

H.E. Alia Hatoug-Bouran
Ambassador of Jordan to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C.   20008
Fax: (202) 966.3110

H.E. Robert Beecroft
U.S. Ambassador to Jordan
Embassy of the United States of America
P.O. Box 354
Amman  11118
Jordan

Ahmed Sheikh
Editor-In-Chief
Al Jazeera
Fax:(+974) 4489-7449
editor@aljazeera.net