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Security court bans coverage of corruption case

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 15, 2010 - The Jordanian State Security Court should reconsider its decision last week to ban news media from covering corruption allegations involving the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company and several leading national figures, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yousef Faouri, attorney general at the State Security Court, issued an order on March 9 banning the press from reporting or commenting on the case without his personal approval, the official PETRA news agency reported.

Press reports in late 2009 detailed allegations of bribery in an expansion project undertaken by the refinery company (known as JPRC), prodding the government to open a criminal investigation. Former finance minister and JPRC official Adel Kudah, former JPRC executive Ahmed Rifai, prominent businessmen Khaled Shahin, and government economic adviser Mohammed Rawashdeh were arrested on March 4 on graft allegations related to the project, according to news reports.

"We condemn this gag order, which deprives Jordanian citizens of important news on allegations of high-level wrongdoing," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "The media uncovered these reports of corruption and must be allowed to pursue them."

A government spokesman said the corruption case is being handled by the security court because it involves the country's "economic security," according to news reports.

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