The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank has stepped up its
crackdown on Palestinian journalists by arresting a female journalist because of
a comment she posted on Facebook.
Last Wednesday, PA security forces
detained the journalist and blogger, Ismat Abdel Khaleq, for criticizing the PA
leadership and calling for the dismantlement of the PA.
Over the weekend,
she was remanded into custody for another 15 days and is being held in solitary
confinement, her colleagues told The Jerusalem Post.
They said that
Khaleq was taken into custody after the PA security forces in the West Bank
accused her of “slander and defamation.”
Khaleq is the fourth Palestinian
journalist to be detained for posting critical comments on Facebook over the past two years.
Several other Palestinian
journalists have also been summoned for questioning after criticizing the PA
leadership on their Facebook accounts.
The three other journalists who
were detained because of their comments on Facebook are Rami Samara, who works
for the PA’s official news agency, Wafa; Mamdouh Hamamreh from Al-Quds TV; and
George Canawati, director of Bethlehem 2000 Radio.
The crackdown on
Facebook users in the West Bank coincides with the arrest last week of
Palestinian journalist Youssef Al-Shayeb, who works for the Jordanian daily
Shayeb was arrested for exposing corruption in the
Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. Last Thursday he went on a hunger
strike to protest his incarceration.
His arrest has sparked a wave of
protests among Palestinian journalists and human rights groups, who accused the
PA government of violating freedom of speech in the West Bank.