Media coverage of corruption case censored for fear of criticism

Published on 15 March 2010

Reporters Without Borders condemns the order issued by an Amman military court on 10 March banning the media from covering a case of alleged corruption involving several leading Jordanian figures including a former finance minister. The case was exposed in the press several months ago.

“This ban shows a lack of political will on the part of the Jordanian government to combat corruption within the government and state-owned companies,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It was the press that pushed the authorities to act in the first place and now it is clear they fear more revelations in the newspapers. This is unworthy of a country that claims to be democratic. The press must be free to cover all subjects.”

State security court attorney general Yousef Faouri issued an order on 10 March banning the press from “reporting or commenting” on the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company expansion project case “without his personal approval,” a government press release said. The reason given was the need to allow the judicial authorities to work calmly on the case.

The former finance minister and three other people were arrested on 4 March for allegedly taking bribes and failing in their duties in connection with the refinery’s expansion and are now facing up to three years in prison. Their release on bail was rescinded by the military court.

Press reports last year exposing alleged kickbacks in the refinery expansion project pushed the government into taking action and opening an investigation.