Jordanian prosecutors have charged thirteen employees of a television station under a new terrorism law, following a June 9 police raid on the outlet, Agence France-Presse reported.
Staff at the Al-Abasiya television station, an Iraqi opposition outlet based in the Jordanian capital Amman, were charged under a law that outlaws supporting terrorist groups or publishing information online that “promotes their ideas,” according to a summary of the law published by France-based Reporters Without Borders. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison.
The staff arrested includes Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian citizens, all of whom have been accused of inciting terrorism and sectarian conflict.
The charges are rooted in recent amendments to Jordan’s Anti-Terrorism Law. The amendments, approved by parliament April 21 and published June 1, included the criminalization of “using information systems or the internet or any means of publishing or media, or establishing a website to facilitate terrorist acts or support a group or organization or charity that commits terrorist acts,” according to Reporters Without Borders. The amendments also outline punishment for acts that would harm Jordan’s relations with other countries.
Al-Abasiya frequently criticizes Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the role of Iran in the Middle East.
The raid and subsequent arrests occurred after the Iraqi government filed a complaint against Al-Abasiya, the Committee to Protect Journalists said, citing unspecified Iraqi news sites. Jordan’s Audiovisual Commission chief Amjad al-Qadi told AFP that the channel was “inciting terrorism and affecting Jordan and other countries.”
The Jordanian government has increasingly tightened restrictions on media in the last year. In June of 2013, the government announced plans to block over 300 websites from public access for failing to attain a government license, according to CPJ.
Two journalists, Amjad Moalla and Nidal Faraaneh, also spent four months in jail during 2013 after being charged with carrying out acts that exposed Jordan to foreign aggression. The charges stemmed from publishing a video that insulted royalty from a Gulf state, according to The Jordan Times.