Journalists bailed in Jordan after arrest over Jesus image

Amman (AFP) –


Two journalists facing possible prison sentences in Jordan over the publication of an "offensive" image of Jesus were released on bail on Wednesday, a judicial source said.

The pair were arrested on Monday in connection with a retouched version of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper", which depicts Jesus's final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion.

The altered version shows celebrity Turkish chef Nusret Gokce, who goes by the name Salt Bae, standing behind Jesus and doing his famous salt-sprinkling gesture.

One of the disciples has Jesus's face tattooed on his leg.

"The prosecutor general of Amman has given his approval today for the release on bail of the journalist Mohammed al-Wakeel" who runs the Al Wakeel News website which published the image, the source said.

Trainee editor Ghadir Rbehat was also bailed.

The decision follows a request by three lawmakers, while "the Council of Churches of Jordan has also requested a pardon and compassion from the prosecutor," the source said.

More than 200 complaints have been filed by Jordanians across the country against Wakeel over the past three days, the source added.

He and Rbehat are facing a charge of inciting secretarian strife, which carries a prison term of six months to three years.

The publication of the doctored image sparked an online outcry which prompted Wakeel to remove it and apologise, saying it was an unintended "mistake" by a trainee editor.

Christians make up around six percent of Jordan's population of 6.6 million.