Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Palestinian Authority/Israel: Escalating Assault on Free Expression

Palestinian Authority Arrests Journalist, Facebook Users; Israel Raids University Media Center

Human Rights Watch
April 3, 2012

"(Jerusalem) - The Palestinian Authority (PA) should not criminally prosecute Yusuf al-Shayeb, a journalist detained without charge on March 26, 2012, and released on April 2, Human Rights Watch said today. He is being investigated for libeling PA officials whom he accused of spying and corruption. The PA should also release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.

Israeli authorities should not prosecute Adel Rweished, an administrator at Al Quds University whom Israeli police detained on April 2, 2012 during a raid on the university’s media center in Jerusalem’s old city. Police broke up an event marking the launch of a new website, and also arrested a security guard. They released both men but summoned them for further questioning. The arrests were based on an Israeli order stating that the Palestinian Authority had organized the event, but Israeli officials provided no evidence to support that claim, which university officials denied. Israel does not allow the Palestinian Authority to operate politically in Jerusalem. It was the second Israeli raid on media programs at Al Quds University since February 29.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Israel should stop harassing and arresting journalists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks send a chilling message about exercising the right to free expression.”

The arrests violate international free speech standards, Human Rights Watch said. Hamas authorities in Gaza have also carried out arrests of journalists in recent weeks in violation of international free speech standards, including allegedly torturing the editor of a news website and arresting other journalists for their presence in an unmarked “security zone.”......."

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