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Al Jazeera bureau chief assaulted by police while covering demonstration

(AAI/IFEX) - On 9 January 2008, Yasser Abu Hilaleh, the Al Jazeera network's bureau chief in Amman, was beaten by riot police while covering a demonstration in Rabia. Abu Hilaleh, who was reporting on the protest involving clashes between demonstrators and the Gendarmerie Forces, was approached by two individuals dressed in civilian clothing who asked him to leave the scene and threatened to assault him.

The Al Jazeera correspondent said that when he identified himself as a journalist and insisted on continuing his coverage of the event, the two men began to assault him.

"They started beating me up and insulting me. Then two riot police came and hit me with their batons," Abu Hilaleh told the "Jordan Times" daily and Al Jazeera channel, adding that he was rescued by members of the Public Security Department's preventive security section.

After the assault, King Abdullah phoned Abu Hilaleh to check on his condition, reiterating his condemnation of assaults against journalists. The Public Security Department apologised for the incident and promised to form a committee to investigate the assault.

In a separate incident, on 10 January, Ashraf Majali, a sports editor for the daily "Addustour", was beaten up by three unidentified assailants as he was leaving the newspaper's office at night. The cause of the attack is still unknown and Majali confirmed that he does not have enemies. The authorities are conducting an investigation into the incident.

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