Middle East News
Jordan detains journalist after story on corruption fugitive
Jun 1, 2011, 12:12 GMT
Amman - The public prosecutor of Jordan's State Security Court on Wednesday ordered the detention for 14 days of a journalist who has reported on a businessman jailed for corruption who had nevertheless left the country.
The journalist, Alaa Fazzaa recently published a report revealing how convicted businessman Khalid Shahin left the country three months ago.
According to local media, Fazzaa, who owns and runs the private online news agency Khabarjo.net, was detained on the orders of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit.
Bakhit was forced last week to fire two of his ministers in connection with the Shahin affair.
When he left the country on February 25, Shahin was serving a three-year jail term. The State Security Court had convicted him of bribery in connection with a bid to acquire a 1.2-billion-dollar contract for the expansion of Jordan's sole petroleum refinery.
The authorities then said he had been allowed to leave for London for medical treatment because he had an illness that could not be treated locally, but doctors at the Royal Medical Services challenged this, saying adequate facilities existed in Jordan.
The issue has surfaced in Jordan as a key case of corruption that prompted King Abdullah II to ask Bakhit to initiate judicial proceedings against those involved in major corruption cases that have drawn public attention over recent months.
Bakhit pledged to punish those guilty of corruption, as well as those who report cases of corruption without providing adequate evidence.
Fazzaa's detention drew a sharp reaction from rights groups in the country, who said it was the first case of intervention by the military judiciary in press freedom for a long time.
Journalists said they planned to stage a protest in front of the Jordan Press Association later Wednesday.