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6 killed in new Israeli strike on Deir al-Balah
HRW: PA detains another man over Facebook post
Published Tuesday 03/04/2012 (updated) 04/04/2012 21:30
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority police on Monday detained Jamal Hlaihel over a Facebook post deemed critical of the government, Human Rights Watch reported Tuesday.

Hlaihel is the fourth Palestinian to be arrested recently for criticizing the Ramallah-based government.

Two journalists and a university lecturer were also detained for newspaper articles and Facebook posts that the authorities said were slanderous. The academic remains behind bars.

"We need laws to clarify the rights of journalists, protecting their work and completely removing the threat of detention and interrogation," said Abdel Nasr al-Najjar, head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

"It's unacceptable that detention for any period should be involved for any charge not related to security," he told Reuters.

While Palestinian journalists have been detained before, the arrest of four people within a week has raised concerns in the West Bank about media rights.

Yousef al-Shayeb was arrested last month after he published an article reporting on alleged corruption in the Palestinian foreign ministry and suggesting that officials had collaborated with Western intelligence agencies.

He was released on bail on Monday after spending eight days in prison and faces prosecution over his story.

Lecturer Ismat Abdul Khaliq remains in jail for comments she posted on Facebook in which, prosecutors say, she called for the ousting of President Mahmoud Abbas, branding him a "traitor" and a "fascist".

Journalist Tariq Khamis was detained and interrogated on Sunday after he discussed her case on his own Facebook page.

"The authorities are afraid of journalism," Khamis told Reuters, saying he had been questioned five times in the past. "I was questioned on my work as a journalist, and they confiscated the files on my laptop."

Government representatives said Shayeb did not provide sufficient evidence for his accusations and argue that all three cases represent possible slander.

"Freedom of expression stops at defamation," said Adnan Dmeiri, spokesman of the security services in the West Bank. "It's natural that any citizen can respond to insults and baseless accusations with a lawsuit."

The Palestinian Authority, which has struggled to maintain support as its bid for statehood flounders, receives strong political and financial backing from the West. It recently became a member of the United Nations cultural and education body, UNESCO, which stresses press freedom.

The controversy has flared just as the PA is sponsoring an event to reward press freedom, with a prize due to be given out next month. However, following the recent detentions, the Journalists Union says it will boycott the occasion.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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1 ) Jeff / Canada
04/04/2012 00:27
This is just a precursor to total censorship of journalists and of freedom of expression in the event that a Palestinian state is created. Just look at the models, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.

2 ) ghada / palestine
04/04/2012 08:52
Both sides should cool it down , PA should accept freedom of speech and journalists should be critical not slanderous . Jeff : We in Palestine are far away from Saudi Arabia , Iran and others . We have double evil THE OCCUPATION and the PRESSURE OF THE WEST.

3 ) Bobz / Palestine
04/04/2012 09:22
DISMANTLE PA, and abu mazen is fascist, running a fascist police state... his "intellegence" and "security" forces are trained by american fascists, just because its "soft" fascism doesnt mean it's any less fascist!

4 ) a / Bantustan Bethlehem
04/04/2012 13:06
It's not slander when it's true. Mahmoud Abbas is in fact a collaborator who would give up the rights of Palestinians for a little power.

5 ) Dweikat / Palestine
04/04/2012 13:46
I don't understand people, are they realy neutral?All you commenters..are you neutral? No you're not! The freedom of speech in the West is a disastre..How can you allow somebody to say what he want? there must be rules! there must be limits! when you talk about jews its antisemetic and thats not allowed.In Holland its not allowed to talk about the Queen, so what are all you haters talking about?! If they want no limits then they must go to the west and live there.. we live with norms and values

6 ) Robby / USA
04/04/2012 16:44
5 ) Dweikat / Palestine - "when you talk about jews its antisemetic and thats not allowed." That is not true in the US. Even groups such as the KKK and the American Nazi Party's speech is protected. What is not allowed is purposely putting peoples lives at risk (falsely shouting fire in a crowded place).

7 ) Speach / Freedom
04/04/2012 18:09
PA should try to arrest Mark Zuckerberg - creator of the Facebook. It will resolve all problems with wrong postings.
And I like comparison of the palestinian territories with Netherland in comment #5 – very funny.

8 ) Robert Shore / Canada
04/04/2012 19:14
To Dweikat: Tour right there should be limits but not on critizing the goverment or policies how else can the public know what is true what is false or what other options might be available.

9 ) @ Ghada / Palestine
04/04/2012 20:52
Ghada, the two evils are THE ZIONIST OCCUPATION and THE PA THAT WORKS FOR THE ZIONIST OCCUPATION.
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