Amnesty slams 'harassment' of human rights lawyer
Published Thursday 24/10/2013 (updated) 25/10/2013 11:45
Israeli forces took a hard drive during a raid on Addameer's office
in Ramallah on Dec. 11, 2012.(MaanImages/Addameer, HO)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Amnesty International on Thursday urged Israel to drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer a day after he was released from military custody.
"The release of Anas Barghouti is positive news but he should have never been detained and charged in the first place," said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.
An Israeli judge at Ofer military court ruled that Barghouti should be released because confessions submitted as evidence from other detainees failed to prove he was a security threat, the rights group said.
"It is unacceptable for Israeli authorities to continue to prosecute activists because of their peaceful work in defense of human rights. This release should be a first step towards the authorities ending their harassment of Palestinian human rights defenders."
Barghouti was detained on Sept. 15 at a checkpoint in Bethlehem and charged nine days later with being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He was also charged with being part of the "leadership of a committee to organize demonstrations," both charges which he denied.
If convicted, Barghouti faces up to 18 months in jail, and Amnesty says it will consider him a prisoner of conscience for his work on behalf of prisoners and the "peaceful expression of his political views."
'Pattern of harassment'
On Dec. 11, 2012, Israeli security forces raided the offices of Addameer and two other Palestinian NGOs in Ramallah, seizing computers, work files and equipment and ransacking the premises.
Addameer's chair, Abdullatif Ghaith, a resident of East Jerusalem, has been banned by Israel's military from entering other parts of the occupied West Bank or traveling abroad since 2011, Amnesty says.
On Sept. 23, 2013, one week after the arrest of Anas Bargouthi, Israeli forces arrested Samer Arbid, Addameer's accountant.
He was placed in custody for questioning until Oct. 21, when he was given a four-month administrative detention order.
Another activist from Addameer, Ayman Nasser, was arrested on Oct. 15, 2012 and charged with being a member of the PFLP and carrying out activities in support of Palestinian prisoners.
He spent a year in prison and was released earlier this week.
Nasser told his lawyer that he was interrogated for up to 20 hours a day and kept in stress positions on a chair with his hands tied behind his back.
Amnesty slammed the "pattern of harassment" against human rights organizations and activists in the occupied West Bank by Israel, including arbitrary detentions, restrictions on movement and raids of residential properties and offices.