Reporters Without Borders

Journalist condemned to death for "spying"

Published on Thursday 24 October 2002.
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Reporters Without Borders today denounced the Qatar supreme court for sentencing a Jordanian journalist, Firas Majali, to death on 22 October for alleged espionage.

"We are appalled at this sentence and at the prospect that it might be carried out," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "Without going into the details of the charges against him, we note that his trial took place amid very tense relations between Jordan and Qatar, which meant it was not held calmly."

The broadcast on 6 August by the Qatar-based TV station Al-Jazeera of a very critical programme about Jordan triggered the immediate cancellation of the work permits of the station’s journalists and the closure of its office in Amman. The Jordanian authorities accused the station of subversion and insulting the royal family and the national media strongly criticised Qatar.

Majali, who worked for Al-Jazeera, was arrested in the Qatari capital, Doha, in February and his trial began in May. His lawyer now has 15 days to appeal against the decision. Al-Jazeera said Majali was accused of spying for Jordan, but the lawyer simply said it was for "a foreign country."

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