Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Jordanians seize controversial al-Jazeera videotape


Jordanian authorities confiscated a videotape of an al-Jazeera interview with the country's former crown prince in which the broadcaster said the Jordanian royal sharply criticized US policies in the Middle East as "destructive."

Ghassan Ben Jeddou, al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, interviewed Prince Hassan in Amman. On the tape, the journalist said the prince had also cited US reports that a national security adviser in Saudi Arabia was financing Sunni militants to fight the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

Ben Jeddou said in a statement the prince had criticized US policies in the Middle East as "destructive." Jordan is considered one of Washington's closest allies in the Arab world.

The tape was confiscated on Saturday as Ben Jeddou was about to leave the kingdom.

Nasser Judeh, the chief Jordanian government spokesman, confirmed the confiscation but said it had nothing to do with the content of the interview with Prince Hassan, the uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah II and a one-time heir to the throne.

Ben Jeddou said Jordanian authorities informed al-Jazeera's office in Amman that the seizure was "an official measure by Jordanian authorities" and that they have "no problem with al-Jazeera."

Ben Jeddou said the confiscation was a "mistake" by the Jordanians. The reporter also cited the Jordanians as telling him that there were "higher interests for the country than dealing with what you reporters call freedom of journalism."

Hassan was the brother of King Hussein but was dismissed as crown prince in a 1999 royal shake-up by Hussein. He is a moderate who does not hold any official role in Jordanian politics.

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