PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES - Arbitrary detention of journalists continues as result of tension between Hamas and Fatah



    MONTREAL, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders reiterates its
appeal to Palestinian political leaders to put an end to a wave of arrests of
journalists. At least four are currently detained in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip and the press freedom organisation calls for their release.
    "The political struggle between Hamas and Fatah has inflicted a great
deal of damage on the press in the Palestinian Territories," Reporters Without
Borders said. "Many media have been closed and dozens of journalists have been
arrested. In the absence of the rule of law, they have no way of defending
themselves. Mahmoud Abbas and Ismael Haniyeh cannot remain silent while this
goes on. It is in their own interest to ensure there is room for free speech."
    Waddah Eid, an occasional contributor to the Aljazeera.net website, has
been held in the West Bank since 17 July, when he was summoned to the
headquarters of the Preventive Security Service, which is run by President
Abbas' Palestinian Authority. He has not been told why he is being held, but
it seems he was arrested because of what he wrote for publications regarded as
pro-Hamas.
    Reporters Without Borders has not received any information about Farid
Hamad, a correspondent of the daily Al-Ayyam, since his arrest on 29 July at
his home in Salwad, near Ramallah.
    Awad Al-Rajoub, a full-time Aljazeera.net correspondent, was released
yesterday after spending a month in detention without being charged. Following
pressure from Al Jazeera and organisations that defend the media, the
Palestinian supreme court ruled that he was being held illegally.
    "I spend 26 days in solitary confinement, 16 of them in appalling
conditions," he said on his release. "I was not allowed to have a mattress and
had to sleep on the floor (...) I was interrogated about my work. I think I
will no longer be able to tackle the subjects I used to write about because
they have become taboo, which shows how far free expression has deteriorated
in the Territories."
    Rajoub was arrested on 29 July at the Arab Media Centre in the West Bank
city of Hebron by members of the Palestinian Authority's security forces, who
seized his computer and his work papers.
    Several journalists alleged to be Fatah supporters were arrested by the
Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip after a car-bombing on 25 July. Two of
them, Fouad Jarrada of the state-owned Palestine Broadcasting Corporation and
Amro Farra, a reporter for the state news agency, are still being held.
    Imad Eid, the head of the Maan news agency and a correspondent for the
Lebanese TV station Al-Manar, was briefly detained on 29 July after writing a
dispatch about a Hamas decision to close Fatah-owned premises.
    The armed wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority's
security services in the West Bank were included this year for the first time
in the Reporters Without Borders list of "Predators of Press Freedom," which
is updated every May.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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