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TV crew members assaulted, briefly detained, their camera confiscated

(AAI/IFEX) - On Saturday 7 April 2007, a cameraman and a reporter who work for Al Ghad TV, a new television station in its pilot stage, were assaulted by Jordanian General Security officers while covering a strike by bus drivers at a bus station south of Amman.

The incident started when cameraman Fady Ramhy and reporter Aubaida Dammour returned from covering some events in Kark, in southern Jordan. When they reached the Middle East multi-transport station south of Amman, they came across a gathering of some 2000 people, according to an Al Ghad reporter. Ramhy and Dammour took photos of the incident and interviewed some demonstrators. The demonstration was held to protest the beating of a driver by a policeman after the driver criticised the officer for harassing a girl. When other drivers tried to calm the policeman, more police officers rushed in, turning the situation into a crisis. As a result of this incident, the bus drivers went on strike to protest the humiliation to which they were subjected.

While the Ghad TV team was covering this incident, Ramhy was surrounded by four policemen who confiscated his camera by force and broke it. Ramhy and Dammour told AAI they were detained in the Zohour police station. They were released only when they erased all their recordings of the incident.

In response to the incident, Al Ghad TV issued a press release denouncing the assaults and called upon all parties to respect journalists' physical safety. On 8 April, Al Ghad TV presented an official petition to the General Security Office demanding an investigation into the incident. Daily newspapers published a news item in which the head of the General Security Office, Bishir Daaga, stated that this was an isolated incident and not a systematic practice by the General Security Forces, who respect the media's work and maintain transparency. According to Dammour's testimony to AAI, Daaga's statement in the daily newspapers contradicted what happened on 7 April, where the truth was completely manipulated to make it appear as if one of the bus drivers attacked the cameraman.

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