Palestinian Authority defends web censorship
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Websites gave instructions for bomb-making, Palestinian A-G says without giving evidence, asserts blocking is legal.
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday defended its decision to block websites that
are critical of President Mahmoud Abbas and denied allegations it was violating
freedom of expression in the West Bank.
PA Attorney-General Ahmed
al-Mughni claimed that the websites were blocked for breaking the law and
following complaints from Palestinians.
“Some of the websites were
blocked for training Palestinians how to manufacture bombs and use them,” Mughni
said without providing evidence.
He said that when he ordered the
websites to be blocked, he and the PA security forces were acting in accordance
with the law to maintain public security.
The attorney-general has come
under sharp criticism from many Palestinians for blocking eight websites that
are affiliated with ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan.
At the request
of Abbas, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah several months ago.
forces also raided Dahlan’s residence in Ramallah and arrested a number of his
The row between Abbas and Dahlan erupted after the latter accused
the PA president and his two sons of financial corruption.
also been attacked for ordering the arrest of Palestinian journalists, bloggers
and cartoonists who criticized Abbas.
Jamal Abu Rihan, a Palestinian
activist who recently established a Facebook group calling for an end to PA
corruption, has also been arrested on orders of the
Last week, the PA communications minister, Mashhour Abu
Daka, resigned in protest against the decision to block the websites.
Daka blamed the attorney-general for the crackdown, saying the closure of the
websites was illegal.
In response, the attorney-general launched a
scathing attack on Abu Daka and described his decision to quit as “ministerial
“The timing of the resignation is unjustified,” Mughni said,
noting that the entire cabinet had resigned back in February 2011.
minister or official who wants to resign should do so quietly,” the attorney-
general said. “They should not base their decision on illusions, rumors and
Mughni wondered why the minister had not submitted his
resignation when the websites were blocked several months ago.
advised PA officials to talk only about political, and not legal
The PA, he added, “respects freedom of expression and is against
slander and defamation.”