By Massoud Derhally
Firas Al Majali, a Jordanian journalist who used to work for the state run Qatar Television, was sentenced to death yesterday by a Qatari court, on charges of espionage, the Associated Press reported.
Firas Al Majali, a Jordanian journalist who used to work for the state run Qatar Television, was sentenced to death yesterday by a Qatari court, on charges of espionage, the Associated Press reported.Jordan is engaged in diplomatic efforts to resolve the case in the hope that Al Majali will receive a pardon. Jordanian newspapers ignored the story on Wednesday.Al Majali is part of a prominent family in Jordan, whose uncles were Prime Ministers of Jordan. He was arrested on charges of spying for Jordanian intelligence in January 2002. Al Majali’s father, Nasooh Majali, who was Jordan’s Information Minister and Ambassador to Syria, told Asharq Al Awsat, “My son was the casualty of the strained relationship between Jordan and Qatar.” Al Majali’s lawyer, Essa bin Hamad Al Manai told ITP.net, “If you are going to talk to me about the case, I have instructions from my clients not to comment or declare anything, because I commented immediately after the sentence to the press.” When asked what the next step was and if he was optimistic, Al Manai said, “to appeal and review the case,” adding “as long as there is hope, then God willing we will be optimistic. The door until now has not been shut, and as long as we have an opportunity we will take advantage of that.” Al Majali has 15 days to appeal.Ahmed Al Najdawi, a Jordanian lawyer also defending Al Majali, told Al Hayatnewspaper, “relations between the two countries have adversely affected this case.” According to Al Hayat, Al Majali fainted when the presiding judge read the sentence. The judge said, “The information sent by the defendant via the internet constitutes a criminal offence after reviewing relations between the two states.” Al Majali’s wife Rula Abu Rous, who could not be reached, works for the controversial Qatari satellite channel Al Jazeera. In August, the Jordanian government closed the Jordanian offices of the Qatari-based Al Jazeera channel and revoked the accreditation of the channel’s staff in the kingdom, in response to the show, Al Itijah Al Muakis, or ‘Opposite Directions’. The closure was ordered under the Jordanian Press and Publications Law of 1998 and regulations governing the work of correspondents from the foreign media dating back to 1999.The move followed remarks made on the show on August 6, by an Arab American professor from the University of California, Asad Abu Khalil. On August 8, Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher summoned the Qatari Ambassador to Jordan, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Ben Jassem Al Thani, to express “the government’s strong anger and annoyance” regarding the show. Jordan’s ambassador to Qatar was recalled for consultations.