Jordan's Freedoms Under The Hammer After Journalist's Op-ed Lands Him in Jail

Published December 27th, 2020 - 07:31 GMT
Jordan's Freedoms in Question After Journalist's Op-ed Lands Him in Jail
addad asked in his op-ed whether the government has already started receiving the Pfizer vaccine or not. (Twitter: @skylineforhuman)

Following an op-ed in which he expressed concern over news that high-ranking officials are already receiving the Pfizer vaccine in Jordan before the public and prior to the government official announcement, Jordanian journalist Jamal Haddad was arrested and summoned to the State Security Court last Thursday. This triggered a wave of criticism amongst Jordanians who attacked what they called as the Kingdom's worsening record on press freedoms.

While Haddad's article didn't claim to report verified information, he questioned the government's announcements after a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Education announced on her Facebook page receiving the vaccine, saying the government owes the public an explanation over which vaccines are being used in the country and how will it be distributed to the people.

Referring to the official's Facebook post, Haddad asked in his op-ed whether the government has already started receiving the Pfizer vaccine, especially since earlier statements made expected the jab to arrive in Jordan in late January or early February. 

On Thursday morning, Haddad was reportedly arrested by the police before being referred to the State Security Court, which only deals with issues that threaten national security. 

Responding to these questions, the Jordan Minister of Health Natheer Obeidat clarified that the vaccine the official said she received is the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, that is already being tested in Jordan over the last several months.

Social media users quickly started using a number of hashtags calling on the government to release Haddad immediately, arguing Jordanian journalists have the right to question official procedure and demand answers without being persecuted.

Translation: "A protest in front of the Jordan Journalists Syndicate office in support of Jamal Haddad who has been in detention following an op-ed that reported news of officials receiving the COVID19 vaccine before an official announcement of it arriving in Jordan."

Translation: "Dear government. I didn't read Jamal Haddad's op-ed, but I want to do so now. Putting a journalist in jail because of an article makes me want to believe him. People have always believed what BBC and Monte Carlo and even the Israeli press say. Have you ever asked why people don't believe you? Journalism isn't a crime."

However, Haddad isn't the first Jordanian journalist to be arrested in 2020. According to Human Rights Watch, freedoms in the country have been undermined ever since the government announced the state of emergency last March, following the coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday and Saturday, dozens of Jordanian journalists gathered, protesting Haddad's arrest, especially after reports that he suffered health complications that resulted in transferring him to hospital as doctors suspected he had a heart attack.


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