PA releases jailed journalist on bail

George Canawati released on bail after being arrested for reporting on leaflet threatening Bethlehem mayor signed by Fatah's armed wing.

June 5, 2013 02:44
1 minute read.
PA police stang guard in West Bank

PA Police 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A Palestinian Authority court in Bethlehem ordered the release of Palestinian journalist George Canawati on Tuesday on a 5,000 Jordanian Dinar (about NIS 25,000) bail.

Canawati, director of Bethlehem Radio 2000, was arrested on Monday for reporting about a leaflet signed by Fatah’s armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The leaflet included threats against Bethlehem’s female mayor, Vera Baboun. Fatah has denied any link to the leaflet, saying it had been fabricated.

Palestinian journalists on Tuesday staged a protest outside the court to demand Canawati’s release.

Baboun has been under attack for allegedly banning girls from reciting a poem that includes the phrase “Islam is our religion.” She has also been accused of banning girls from performing at a local ceremony while wearing a hijab.

Baboun has strongly denied the allegations, saying they were part of a smear campaign designed to defame her and remove her from office.

The PA prosecutor-general, Abdel Ghani Uwaiwi, denied that Canwati’s arrest was linked to his journalistic work. He insisted that the journalist was arrested for a “criminal offense.”

Bethlehem Gov. Abdel Fattah Hamayel hinted that Canawati was held for forging the Fatah leaflet. He said that Canawati was suspected of “beating on the sectarian chord, stirring up sedition and defaming a prominent personality.”

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