Palestinian clown released after 20 months in Israeli prison

Mohammad Abu Sakha, a clown and activist, was released after spending 20 months in prison.

August 31, 2017 16:54
1 minute read.
Mohammad Abu Sakha's fellow clowns demontrasted in solidarity with their detained colleague

Mohammad Abu Sakha's fellow clowns demontrasted in solidarity with their detained colleague. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED)

Palestinian clown accused by Israel of membership in a banned leftist group and held without charge for 20 months has been released, AFP reports.

On Thursday, 26 years old Mohammad Abu Sakha told AFP he was released the day before from administrative detention, the controversial measure under which Israel detains suspects without trial.

The procedure allows Israel to keep suspects in prison for very long stretches of time without needing to begin a legal procedure or even informing the people arrested why they are being held.
Abu Sakha returned to the northern West Bank city of Jenin, where family and friends were waiting to welcome him.
"It was like a party," he said to AFP.

Abu Sakha had been part of the Palestinian Circus School in Bir Zeit in the West Bank since 2008, first as a student and later as a clown and teacher.

Israel's Shin Bet security agency accused him of being a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel considers a terrorist group because of its armed wing.

Amnesty International had called for his release.

"Israel arrests people every day, and closes them off economically," he said to AFP. "The circus gives people hope."

He said he would pick up his involvement with the arts of the circus and education.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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