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Press law extended to online publications

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has criticized the government's extension of the press law to cover online publications as "damaging to the freedom of expression that the Internet ensures in a country such as Jordan, where the media is tightly controlled." It called for the measure to be cancelled.

The head of the government's Press and Publications Department, Mohammad Quteishat, announced on 25 September 2007 that online publications would henceforth be monitored in the same way the print media is. The daily "Jordan Times" said he cited the press law's article 2, saying that the legal definition of a publication "clearly indicates that the electronic media is under our jurisdiction. What applies to print media applies to electronic media in terms of legal responsibility." He said his department was "not going to censor contents of websites, but if there was a breach of law, we will take necessary measures."

The press law provides for heavy fines, of up to 30,000 euros, for those who contravene it. Some criminal laws, as well as the law concerning state security courts, allow for imprisonment for defamation, insulting religious beliefs and promoting material that encourages sectarianism or racism.

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