Saturday, March 31, 2012

Palestinian Authority jails journalist for publishing exposé on foreign ministry

Asa Winstanley
The Electronic Intifada
Ramallah 30 March 2012

"The Palestinian Authority imprisoned journalist Yousef al-Shayab Wednesday because of something he wrote, and because he insists on protecting his sources, say his colleagues. Al-Shayab hit back by announcing in court he would go on hunger strike.

Based on anonymous sources, al-Shayab’s January article alleged that the PA diplomatic mission to France was involved in spying on Muslim student groups for the benefit of “Palestinian and foreign security.” It also alleged that PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki helped cover up the scandal.....

Lack of press freedoms in West Bank

Israeli abuses against Palestinian journalists are well-documented, but the role of the Palestinian Authority in repressing free speech in the West Bank is perhaps less well-known.

Another Palestinian journalist was arrested for something he wrote at the end of January. According to a press release by MADA, a Palestinian press freedom group, Rami Samara was arrested at his office on 31 January and held for nearly four hours. He had written a critical commentary about Palestine Liberation Organization negotiations with Israel in Amman on his Facebook page (“MADA Condemns the Arrest of the Journalist Rami Samara in Ramallah”).

The Palestinian territories including the West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was placed at 153 out of 179 on the Reporters Without Borders 2011-12 Press Freedom Index. RSF included the PA’s security forces on its 2010 list of “Forty predators of press freedom” along with the Israeli army and Hamas forces in Gaza. According to the group, “security forces and intelligence service controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas made many arbitrary arrests of pro-Hamas journalists in 2010.”

Amnesty International’s 2011 annual report on the PA states that “[b]oth the PA in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza maintained tight controls on freedom of expression, and harassed and prosecuted journalists, bloggers and other critics.”"

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