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The New Arab

Jordan military arrests TV executives for airing complaints about coronavirus lockdown

Soldiers from the Jordanian army patrol Amman's streets during a nationwide curfew [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2020

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The Jordanian military arrested the owner of Roya TV Channel and its news director after a clip was aired voicing complaints about the coronavirus curfew.
Jordan has arrested TV executives for airing a news segment which voiced complaints about the government-imposed lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Jordanian military arrested the owner of Roya TV Mohamad al-Khalidi and its news director Fares Sayegh after they aired a clip showing a crowd of labourers unhappy about not being able to work under the government curfew, Al Jazeera reported. 

Roya TV issued a statement on Friday confirming the arrests. 

"The public prosecution at the state security court has ordered the detention of Sayegh and al-Khalidi for 14 days over the airing of a news segment," the statement shared by Al Jazeera read.

"Roya Channel supports the Jordanian government efforts throughout all the crises as part of the Jordanian media that works professionally and patriotically and respecting the rule of law," the statement added.

The segment behind the controversy was aired Wednesday and showed a crowd of labourers in the capital Amman complaining that they were no longer able to work and provide for their families under the lockdown. 

"I need to feed my family, what should I do now? Should I resort to stealing or selling drugs? Should we start begging on the streets?" a man in the clip asked.

The Jordanian government announced a 48-hour round-the-clock curfew starting from midnight on Thursday, to allow epidemiological teams to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The government first introduced a similar round-the-clock curfew on 14 March, before relaxing it by giving people limited hours to shop for basic goods on foot.

The previous curfew was relaxed following backlash from Jordan's residents. 

The country has so far reported 372 cases of Covid-19 but no deaths.

A private hospital was closed on Wednesday after three staff were infected with coronavirus. It will reopen on Saturday following a disinfection process.  

Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri said on Thursday that all economic sectors will be opened after electronic permits, enabling movement during the curfew, are prepared.

Read more: Gentrification and grassroots resistance in Amman's historic Jabal al-Weibdeh district

He added that goods would be allowed to be exported after checking the Kingdom's own needs.

A few days ago, the ministry ordered traders to stop exporting food products to boost the Kingdom's stockpiles.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and could lead to death.

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