PA defends detention of dissenting journalists

Palestinian Authority says it is acting in accordance with the law, as Palestinian Journalists Syndicate calls for the release of 2 journalists.

PA Police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA Police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The PA defended on Sunday its crackdown on Palestinian journalists and said it was acting in accordance with the law.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, meanwhile, called for the release of two Palestinian journalists whom PA security forces arrested last week in the West Bank.
Accusing the PA of violating media freedoms, the syndicate demanded the immediate release of reporters Youssef Al-Shayeb and Esmat Abdel Khalik, who were arrested separately.
Al-Shayeb was arrested for exposing corruption in the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France, while Abdel Khalik, a prominent female journalist and blogger, was taken into custody for posting comments on Facebook against PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Throwing a female journalist into prison is a dangerous precedent and a violation of all society traditions,” the syndicate said in a statement published in Ramallah. “This is also a real setback for Palestinian journalists.”
The detention of the two journalists has been extended for 15 days pending their trial.
PA Attorney-General Ahmed Al-Mughni, announced Sunday that his government has no problem arresting journalists who “break the law.”
The PA does not pursue or harass journalists, Al-Mughni told reporters in Ramallah.
“When we receive a complaint, we take the necessary legal measures,” he added.
According to the attorney-general, Al-Shayeb published an investigative report in a Jordanian newspaper that was based on lies and fabrications.
He said that Al-Shayeb will be charged with slander and defamation following a complaint against him by PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and the staff at the Palestinian mission in France.
When Al-Shayeb failed to reveal the sources for his report, he was summoned for interrogation and later ordered to be held in detention, Al-Mughni said.
Al-Shayeb’s colleagues said over the weekend that he has gone on a hunger strike in protest against his arrest.
Referring to the case of Abdel Khalik, the attorney-general accused her of posting comments on Facebook against Abbas.
He said that one of the comments read: “Down with the traitor Mahmoud Abbas.”
Another comment, according to Al-Mughni, denounced Abbas as a fascist.