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Press Freedom Jordanians demand release of journalists who exposed minister’s tax-dodging

PRESS freedom advocates are calling for the release of two Jordanian journalists who were arrested after they accused the country’s finance minister of tax evasion.

Shadi al-Zinati and Omar al-Mahrama, of the Jfranews website, were nabbed by police on Tuesday after Finance Minister Omar Malhas claimed the allegations against him were false.

They face charges under Jordan’s press and cybercrime laws, which contain sections that make it easy for authorities to arrest journalists.

The Middle East Eye reported that dozens of media workers rallied outside the Jordan Press Association (JPA) yesterday, holding a banner bearing a quote from King Abdullah promising that journalists would not be prosecuted for doing their jobs.

JPA freedoms committee chair Khaled Qudah said the body was working to free the pair.

He told the Alghad newspaper that “these arrests strike at the heart of freedom of expression in Jordan.”

MP Saddah Alhabashneh accused the government of trying to “muffle” dissent after recent decisions that impoverish ordinary Jordanians.

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