PA crackdown on journalists angers PLO official

Saleh Ra’fat accuses the Palestinian Authority attorney-general of “cloning the policy of administrative detention.”

Palestinian boy looks over rally in Ramallah 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
Palestinian boy looks over rally in Ramallah 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
The Palestinian Authority’s attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni, is unlawfully detaining journalists and bloggers, Saleh Ra’fat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said on Monday.
Voicing outrage and discontent over the recent PA crackdown, Ra’fat accused the attorney-general of “cloning the policy of administrative detention” by ordering the arrest of journalists and bloggers exposing corruption in the PA and criticizing Palestinian leaders.
Over the past few weeks, PA security forces in the West Bank arrested four journalists and a blogger on orders of the attorney-general.
The journalists – Rami Samara, Youssef al-Shayeb, Tarek Khamis and Esmat Abdel Khalik – have since been released, although blogger Jamal Abu Rihan remains in prison. Rihan created a Facebook group titled “The people want an end to corruption.”
Ra’fat said the attorney-general refused to release Rihan this weekend. He called on Palestinian journalists, bloggers and political and human rights activists to participate in a sit-in strike Wednesday in Ramallah to protest against press censorship and the repression of colleagues.
Several other members of the PLO Executive Committee have expressed resentment over the actions of the attorney-general, Ra’fat added.
Azmi Shuaibi, a former PA cabinet minister who now heads an anti-corruption organization in the West Bank, accused Mughni of using his powers to silence critics and intimidate journalists.
“People are being arrested for expressing their views,” Shuaibi charged. “They are being punished by the attorney-general even before a court rules whether they are guilty or not. The attorney-general is abusing his powers.”