Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Palestinian TV station sued as journalists fear media crackdown

Websites have been closed and Wattan TV is facing court after it investigated alleged corruption linked to the Palestinian Authority

Harriet Sherwood in Ramallah
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 May 2012

"An independent Palestinian television station is facing a potentially crippling court case next week amid growing evidence of a clampdown by the Palestinian Authority on freedom of expression and journalists critical of its activities.

Wattan TV is being sued for $1m (£600,000) over an investigation into alleged corruption at a Palestinian university. It claimed that the son of a senior PA official was offered a place at the university despite having failed to meet academic requirements. The station, which says it has evidence to support its allegations, fears that some of its executives could face prison sentences and that freedom of speech in the Palestinian territories will be curtailed.

It follows the resignation last week of the Palestinian communications minister in protest at the PA's blocking of at least eight websites that criticised President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mashour Abu Daqa said the closure of the sites was "bad for the image of the [PA] in the modern world" and that restricting access to information was a form of corruption. "Blocking websites is against the public interest. I oppose it without exception," he said....."

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