PA arrests Palestinian over ties to Al Jazeera

Journalist is facing detainment by Palestinian Authority security forces for visiting Qatar to take Al-Jazeera training course.

March 12, 2013 18:16
1 minute read.
The Doha skyline.

Qatar Doha skyline buildings 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A Palestinian journalist from the West Bank complained Tuesday that Palestinian Authority security forces had been harassing him ever since he visited Qatar.

The journalist, Tarek al-Sarkaji, said that if visiting Qatar were a crime in the eyes of the PA security forces, then they should also arrest PA President Mahmoud Abbas for visiting the Gulf country.

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Sarkaji, who lives in Nablus and also works as a TV producer, said his problems had begun when he returned to the West Bank after attending a training course for the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV station.

His father, Yusef, was a senior Hamas commander who was killed by the IDF in 2002.

Al Jazeera’s relations with the PA leadership have deteriorated ever since the station published documents about the peace talks with Israel that were stolen from the office of PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Sarkaji noted that he had never been arrested in the past, neither by Israel nor by the PA.

“I never imagined that my first day in detention would be in a Palestinian Authority security prison,” he said. “Since when was participation in an educational course a criminal charge?” The journalist said he could not understand why the PA security forces had not yet arrested Al Jazeera correspondents in Ramallah.


“If traveling to Qatar is a crime, then it would be preferable to arrest President Mahmoud Abbas, because he visited Qatar more than I did, and he even has a relationship with the emir of Qatar,” he added.

According to Sarkaji, ever since his return to the West Bank, he has been repeatedly summoned for interrogation by two different security forces: the Preventive Security Force and the General Intelligence Service.

On one occasion, he said, he was held in Jneid Prison outside Nablus for 24 hours, during which time he was subjected to physical and psychological torture.

“They held me in a tiny cell with no window or ventilation,” he recounted. “I had to hear the screams of another detainee in a nearby cell who was apparently being mistreated by the security officers.”

Sarkaji said his interrogators were interested only in his ties to Al Jazeera and other people he had met while in Qatar and Jordan.

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