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Publisher of news website released on bail

By Mohammad Ghazal - Dec 12,2018 - Last updated at Dec 13,2018

AMMAN — The Amman prosecutor general on Wednesday agreed to release on bail Mohammad Al Wakeel, publisher of a news website, after he was detained following his posting  of a picture on Facebook depicting the Last Supper, which was deemed offensive.

An intern editor working for the website, who was also detained with Wakeel, was also released on bail. 

Earlier in the day, dozens of journalists held a sit-in calling for the release of the detained journalists. 

The journalists stressed on their rejection of detention, saying their colleagues have the right to a fair trial and the judiciary is the entity to decide the right action as there was no court ruling that validated the detention.

“Pre-trial detention is a punishment and is completely rejected, and we are here to call for their immediate release,” Basel Okour, chief editor of jo24 news website, said during the sit-in.

“We are also protesting the inaction by the Jordan Press Association (JPA),” he said, stressing that journalists and media personnel defend every person’s right to resort to court if he or she feels offended from a post or an opinion.

Al Wakeel is not a member of the JPA, according to its president, Rakan Saaydeh, who in earlier remarks said the post was on social media and was not via a media outlet.

Omar Maharmeh, a JPA council member, called for increased pressure and efforts to abolish the cybercrime draft law, which, he said, will lead to more restrictions.

Journalists and activists have been calling for the withdrawal the bill, which was recently referred to the Lower House for endorsement, after being amended by the government.

The bill, they said, will restrict press and public freedoms.

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