vrijdag 21 januari 2011

Journalisten gearresteerd door Palestijnse Autoriteit

Zijn Hoogheid Machmoed Abbas de Eerste laat critici oppakken wegens majesteitsschennis. Is hij tot Prins Carnaval gekozen?

PA cracking down on journalists using old laws

Two journalists are arrested in recent weeks for violating Jordanian law by having the "audacity to insult His Majesty the King."  

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been using an old Jordanian law to crack down on Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the past few weeks two journalists from Bethlehem were detained by PA security forces for violating the controversial Jordanian law, which dates back to 1960.

The two have since been released from prison following strong protests by human rights activists and other journalists. One of them had been held since last November.

Article 195 of the ill-reputed Jordanian Penal Code stipulates that "anyone whose audacity to insult His Majesty the King has been proven will be punished with prison between one and three years."

The law bans anyone from "extending" his or her tongue at the king, whether by a written, oral, or electronic letter or by a photograph or caricature.

The law is mainly intended to silence opposition voices and prevent people from criticizing the monarch. Similar laws exist in most of the Arab countries.

The two journalists from Bethlehem were arrested separately by the PA's General Intelligence Service.

One of them, Mamdouh Hamamreh, a correspondent for the local Al-Quds TV station, was taken into custody after posting a photo of the PA president on his Facebook page next to a picture of Ma'moon Bek, a Syrian actor who played the role of a spy in Bab al-Hara, one of the most popular television series in the Arab world.

Bab al-Hara takes place in the 1930s, a time when the Middle East was colonized by Western powers - Syria was under French control and Palestine was occupied by Britain.

Hamamreh was charged in a PA court in Bethlehem with libel and slander against Abbas in violation of the Jordanian law.

Hamamreh denied that he had posted the picture on his Facebook page and told interrogators that a person who identified himself as Nadim Qaisi had sent him the photo of the actor-spy.

The journalist's father told the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms that the PA intelligence officers who raided the family's home confiscated a laptop and a computer.

The security officers also forced the journalist to hand over to them the password that allows access to his Facebook account.

Sana Aranki, a lawyer for the detained journalist, said that her client had been denied family visits while in prison.

She stressed that Hamamreh's arrest was incompatible with PA laws. "When the Palestinian intelligence service arrested the journalist, they violated article 11 of the Palestinian Amended Law, which says that it is "unlawful to arrest, search, imprison, restrict the freedom, or prevent the movement of any person, except by judicial order."

The lawyer added that the charge of "extending the tongue" against the PA president on the basis of the Jordanian law was not valid because the system in the Palestinian territories is presidential and not royal.

The PA used the same law in December to arrest another journalist, George Qanawati, manager of Radio Bethlehem 2000.

Qanawati was also accused of "extending his tongue" against the PA president, but was released five days later.

Sources in Bethlehem said that Qanawati was arrested for reporting about the dispute between Abbas and former Fatah security commander Mohammed Dahlan.

The dispute has since become public knowledge. Simmering tensions between the two men reached a peak last month when Fatah suspended Dahlan from official activities and launched an investigation into his financial and other dealings.

Dahlan is currently being questioned by a special commission of inquiry set by Abbas on suspicion that he had been plotting to topple the PA regime in the West Bank.

But sources close to Dahlan say that the dispute erupted after he had been secretly recorded bad-mouthing Abbas and his two sons.

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