It seems Aljazeera has upset the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan yet again, though this time the event involves HRH Prince Hassan. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported the following yesterday:
The Committee to Protect Journalists protests the Jordanian government’s seizure of a taped Al-Jazeera interview with former crown prince Hassan bin Talal last week. Ghassan Benjeddou, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Beirut, told CPJ that Jordanian intelligence officers stopped his producer at Amman’s Queen Alia Airport on Wednesday, shortly after the interview. They proceeded to confiscate the videotape of the interview, as well as several photographs taken of Prince Hassan during the interview.
In the interview conducted by Benjeddou, Hassan spoke critically of Saudi Arabia and U.S. policies in the Middle East, the journalist told CPJ. Citing a U.S. report, the prince said a Saudi official was financing Sunni militants to confront the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Al-Jazeera identified the official as Prince Bandar bin Sultan, secretary-general of Saudi Arabia’s National Security Council, The Associated Press reported. Hassan also criticized Saudi Arabia for holding political negotiations in the holy city of Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site, Masjid al-Haram.
And the Jordanian response:
On Saturday, Benjeddou used his program to discuss press freedom in the Arab world and discuss what happened to him. He invited Nasser Judeh, the chief Jordanian government spokesman, to comment. The Jordan Times reported that Judeh told Al-Jazeera that Prince Hassan is "an intellectual whose views are respected the world over," but "there are national interests that should be protected."
The Jordan Times quoted Judeh saying "we cannot afford to have any misinterpretation of Jordan’s stand at this delicate stage," adding, "after all, remember that we live in the Middle East where media outlets are sometimes employed to serve political purposes."
I can see how HRH Prince Hassan’s comments could be controversial but at the same time I’m someone who believes in the total freedom of the press. In my humble opinion, I believe harassing journalists in this fashion and confiscating their work should not occur in a country that strives to be "democratic ." But then again, many would argue that things are not so black and white in the Middle East, and that sometimes there are exceptions. Ah well, I will agree to disagree!