(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank on Thursday arrested the owner of a TV station in Hebron for broadcasting a press conference with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Mu'taz al-Kurdi, who owns the Hebron-based private TV station Al-Amal ("Hope"), was summoned by PA security officials for questioning after the station carried live coverage of Haniyeh's press conference last Sunday in Gaza City.
Al-Kurdi, who was released the following day, is also a senior editor at the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency.
PA officials in Ramallah confirmed that he had been arrested for broadcasting Haniyeh's statements. They said the decision to arrest al-Kurdi came directly from the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
In addition to the arrest, the PA security forces also closed down the TV station until further notice.
The arrest of the journalist and the closure of the TV station sparked fierce protests from Palestinian journalists, who accused Abbas's security forces of waging a campaign of intimidation against them.
Several Palestinian journalists and media organizations have been targeted by Fatah's security forces in the West Bank over the past few months. Most of them were accused of membership in Hamas.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas has also been targeting journalists, especially those affiliated with Fatah.
Al-Kurdi is the third journalist to be arrested by the Fatah-controlled security forces in the past few days. The other two, who are still in detention, are Ala al-Titi and Assid Amarneh. The two, according to PA security officials, are accused of publishing reports that "reflect positively on Hamas."
In protest against the arrest of al-Kurdi and the closure of his TV station, Ma'an suspended its broadcasts on Friday. The agency expressed "deep disappointment" over the arrest and urged the PA to halt its measures against journalists.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate also condemned the arrest of al-Kurdi as a violation of human rights and freedom of expression.
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