PA detains journalist for criticizing leadership

Rami Samara, who works for the PA’s official news agency Wafa, and the privately owned Ajyal radio station detained for Facebook post.

PA Police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA Police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority security forces arrested Tuesday a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah who posted a critical remark about the PA leadership on his Facebook page.
The journalist, Rami Samara, works for the PA’s official news agency Wafa, and the privately owned Ajyal radio station.
Yousef Shayeb, another Palestinian journalist who protested against the arrest of Samara, was also arrested by PA security forces.
The two journalists were released a few hours later following protests by Palestinian journalists and human rights organizations.
Samara said he was questioned separately by two Palestinian security agencies about his activities on Facebook and his work.
The comment that landed Samara in prison was in response to a story entitled, “Palestinian leadership holds Israel responsible for failure of Amman talks.”
The story was published following a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah, which was chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and which blamed Israel for the failure of the recent Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jordan.
In his comment on Facebook, Samara wrote: “OK, no joking now, do the members of the ‘sole legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people’ believe that this announcement is worth their sitting in their seats in the Mukata [presidential compound], turning on the heaters and drinking coffee and tea?”
Samara was arrested while he was working at the offices of the Wafa news agency, a Palestinian journalist told The Jerusalem Post.
In response, the Ajyal radio station called on Palestinian journalists to stage a sit-in strike in the center of Ramallah to demand the release of their colleague.
Samara is the second Palestinian journalist to be arrested for criticizing the PA leadership on Facebook.
In January 2011, Mamdouh Hamarneh, who works for a local TV station, was detained for 50 days by PA security forces in Bethlehem.
Hamarneh was taken into custody because of a photo that appeared on his Facebook page that depicts Abbas standing next to a Syrian actor who portrayed a spy in a popular Syrian soap opera.
Hamarneh was charged in a PA court with libel and slander against Abbas under an antiquated Jordanian law that bans anyone from “prolonging his or her tongue at the king.”