The Palestinian reporter who was arrested this week by PA security forces for reporting about corruption in its diplomatic mission in France has gone on a hunger strike, Palestinian journalists said Thursday.

On Wednesday, a PA court in Ramallah remanded Youssef Al- Shayeb, who works for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad newspaper, into custody for 15 days, .

Al-Shayeb was detained for interrogation following a complaint filed against him by PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and the head of the diplomatic mission in Paris.

“Al-Shayeb has gone on a hunger strike to protest against his arbitrary detention,” a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah said.

“We see the detention as an assault on freedom of expression in the Palestinian territories.”

Another journalist said that the detention of Al-Shayeb was aimed at sending a warning to all reporters who dare to criticize the PA government or report about cases of corruption.

“In the coming days we will launch a campaign to demand the release of Al-Shayeb,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “His arrest is a flagrant violation of freedom of speech.”

Several Palestinian human rights groups have also joined calls for releasing Al-Shayeb, who faces charges of “slander and libel.”

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said that the “era of imprisoning journalists belongs to the past.” The center said that there was no reason why the journalist should remain in detention despite the charges against him.

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy also condemned the detention of Al-Shayeb.

The group said that it was ironic that that on the same day that Al-Shayeb was taken into custody, the PA government in Ramallah announced an Award for Freedom of Media in 2012 and invited Palestinian journalists to submit their candidacy.

Several Palestinian bloggers have also condemned the detention of Al-Shayeb, urging the PA to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Maliki, meanwhile, defended the decision to detain the journalist and accused him of “committing a sin against the media.”

Maliki told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that he did not understand why Palestinian journalists were angry over the detention of their colleague.

Accusing Al-Shayeb of publishing lies and fabrications, the PA foreign minister said that the journalist deserved to be punished.

He also urged Palestinian journalists to distance themselves from Al-Shayeb.

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