Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freedom of the press, PA-style

From JPost:
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been using an old Jordanian law to crack down on Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the past few weeks two journalists from Bethlehem were detained by PA security forces for violating the controversial Jordanian law, which dates back to 1960.

The two have since been released from prison following strong protests by human rights activists and other journalists. One of them had been held since last November.

Article 195 of the ill-reputed Jordanian Penal Code stipulates that “anyone whose audacity to insult His Majesty the King has been proven will be punished with prison between one and three years.”

The law bans anyone from “extending” his or her tongue at the king, whether by a written, oral, or electronic letter or by a photograph or caricature.

The law is mainly intended to silence opposition voices and prevent people from criticizing the monarch. Similar laws exist in most of the Arab countries.

The two journalists from Bethlehem were arrested separately by the PA’s General Intelligence Service.

One of them, Mamdouh Hamamreh, a correspondent for the local Al-Quds TV station, was taken into custody after posting a photo of the PA president on his Facebook page next to a picture of Ma’moon Bek, a Syrian actor who played the role of a spy in Bab al-Hara, one of the most popular television series in the Arab world.
Of course, the journalist had ticked off Abbas with his reporting (about the problems between Abbas and Dahlan), and the PA used the old Jordanian law as a pretext to harass him.

(h/t T34)