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      Jordan Joins Middle East in Crackdown on Journalists

      Jordan has joined other Muslim nations in the region in cracking down on journalists and media outlets in the country.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 7/3/2013, 12:17 PM

      Jordan's King Abdullah II
      Jordan's King Abdullah II
      AFP/File

      Jordan has joined other Muslim nations in the region in cracking down on journalists and media outlets in the country.

      The Hashemite Kingdom announced Tuesday that it had blocked 254 “unlicensed” news web sites, including 16 this week alone.

      The censorship was carried out under a 2012 law criticized as a threat to freedom of expression, according to the AFP news agency.

      Fayez Shawabkeh, head of Jordan’s Press and Publication Department (PPD), said the decision to block the 16 sites blocked in the past two days was taken “after carefully examining their situation. 

      “This brings the total number of sites the PPD blocked recently to 254, while 111 sites have obtained licenses,” he said. 

      On June 3, authorities said they would block nearly 300 out of 400 local news web sites “for failing to obtain the necessary licensing” under last year’s legislation. The enables the government to require “electronic publications” to register with the PPD and obtain a license.

      Chief editors of news web sites must be members of the Jordan Press Association and give the government the right to censor content. The law also holds journalists liable for comments posted to the web pages.

      Nevertheless, the PPD insists “the decision does not seek to restrict freedoms” and that “the objective is to organize the work of these web sites.”

      Numerous other Arab governments have cracked down on journalists, as have other Muslim regimes, including Syria, Gaza, Iran, and Turkey.