Hamas frees German TV's cameraman

ARD says the 42-year-old man had been tortured during his five days in detention.

ARD cameraman 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
ARD cameraman 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas released a Palestinian cameraman for German TV on Thursday, and the broadcaster said the 42-year-old man had been tortured during his five days in detention. Masked Hamas gunmen nabbed Sawah Abu Saif from his Gaza home last Saturday during a mass weekend roundup of alleged activists of the rival Fatah movement. Hamas blames Fatah for a Gaza City explosion that killed five Hamas members and a 6-year-old girl. Fatah denies the charges and ARD denies Abu Saif has any political affiliation with either group. The German broadcaster ARD had shut down its Gaza City office to protest the arrest of its cameraman. In Germany, ARD Chairman Fritz Raff said the entire organization was relieved that Abu Saif is now free. "That he was subjected to abuse leaves us deeply shocked," Raff said in a statement released by ARD. "We now need to consider carefully how further news coverage from Gaza can be assured, given that Hamas is in such obvious contempt of the freedom of press." Richard C. Schneider, ARD's Middle East bureau chief, said Abu Saif was tortured and is currently in poor condition, but preferred not to detail the abuse he suffered "out of fear for Abu Saif and his family's safety." He said Abu Saif was interrogated about his work for ARD and his interrogators were eager to obtain information about its staff members and correspondents. He was told that he would be summoned again and placed under observation. "Given the circumstances of his ordeal, our colleague Abu Saif is extremely worried and frightened," Schneider said. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah security forces after bloody street battles last year, leaving Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah ruling only the West Bank. Each group has arrested its rivals by the hundreds since. Earlier this week, two human rights groups accused Hamas and Fatah of the widespread torture of political opponents. Hamas also arrested the director of "Maan," the Palestinian news agency in Gaza, this week. Hamas police and prosecutors said Imad Eid would be interrogated over an article he published that was allegedly pro-Fatah. The Hamas government has banned all West Bank newspapers from distributing in Gaza since Sunday.