PA continues crackdown on journalists in W. Bank

In past week PA security forces interrogated, detained two journalists, despite promises to honor freedom of media.

PA Police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA Police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite promises to honor freedom of the media, the Palestinian Authority is continuing its crackdown on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank.
In the past week, PA security forces interrogated and detained two journalists: Haroun Abu Arrah and Omar Arqoub.
Abu Arrah, who was born in Jenin and lives in Ramallah, was detained by the PA’s General Intelligence Security [GIS] for interrogation.
“I went to the headquarters of the GIS two days after receiving a summons,” Abu Arrah told the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
“They asked me provocative and personal questions, such as whether I was having or had sexual relationships. I told the interrogator that this was none of his business. He replied: You better answer the questions.”
Abu Arrah said he was also questioned about a comment he had posted on Facebook about the summons he received to report to the GIS.
He said the interrogator presented to him a printed copy of the Facebook comment.
“The interrogation lasted for two-and-a-half hours after which I was released without knowing why I had been summoned in the first place,” Abu Arrah said.
Earlier this year, Abu Arrah, who is also a film producer, was arrested for 10 days by the GIS for insulting PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“There was a press conference in Oslo, Norway, where I asked President Mahmoud Abbas directly whether he was aware that people were dying in PA and Hamas prisons,” Abu Arrah said. “The president replied that he did not know about this. So I told him that he should stop it.”
The journalist said that shortly after he returned to the West Bank he was arrested for “extending my tongue” against Abbas.“I spent 10 days in solitary confinement,” Abu Arrah recalled. “In the first two days they confiscated my mattress and prevented me from sleeping.”
He said that the PA security forces have since been harassing him and asking his employers to fire him.
The second journalist, Arqoub, was arrested for 11 days by the GIS, whose agents also confiscated his laptop. He was questioned about a documentary film on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that he is working on.
Since his release, Arqoub, who is from the town of Dura near Hebron, has been summoned several times for interrogation by the PA’s Preventive Security Service. He said his interrogators forced him to provide them with the passwords to his personal email address and Facebook page.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the arrest and repeated interrogation of Arqoub and called on the PA to “respect freedom of the media and expression.”