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TV reporter detained over alleged attack on health workers

Claims that attacks were ‘made up’ as excuse to arrest journalist

By Maram Kayed - Aug 09,2018 - Last updated at Aug 09,2018

AMMAN — The Judicial Council on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against the Jordan Radio and Television (JRTV) reporter Tahani Qattawi, after three complaints were filed against her, and took her into custody at the Jweida Women’s prison for seven days.

Two complaints were filed against the reporter for “attacking doctors” and one for “violating a worker’s privacy without her consent” at a health centre in Al Nuzha. 

The charges were filed by the owner of the health centre of which she published a video a few days earlier, exposing “dire conditions” at the establishment, said Nidal Mansour, executive president of Centre of Defending Freedom of Journalists. “Although the complaints filed against her claimed that she physically attacked two doctors and violated a cleaning worker’s privacy, we are afraid that these complaints are only because of the video she published,” Mansour told The Jordan Times.

Officials at JRTV were not available for comment to The Jordan Times by press time on Thursday.

The decision to detain the journalist caused a lot of reactions on social media, which shwoed support to Qattawi.

Eyad Jaghbeer, a Jordanian citizen, wrote on Facebook: “The arrest of Tahani Qattawi is proof that the judicial system needs serious reform.”

Meanwhile, Mohammad Alzoud, a fellow reporter, wrote “it is unacceptable for any journalist to be arrested if their report has been recorded. What is going on?”

Writing on her Facebook account before being taken in, Qattawi said: “The Amman Court won’t let my brother bail me out, despite me having a medical report stating that I need rest for three days."

Her last Facebook post, in which she asked for her supporters and friends to launch the hashtag “#Free_Tahani”, has since received great numbers of likes and comments since its publication on Monday.

However, defending Qattawi's case may be harder than her colleagues and supporters perceive, as the charges pressed against her are not for her work as a journalist but for attacks, said Omar Maharmeh, a member of the Jordanian Press Association, adding “despite that, the association is doing the best it can to defend her and her position”.

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