PA arrests man for Facebook anti-corruption drive (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 04/08/12)
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Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested over
the weekend a Palestinian blogger who launched a Facebook campaign
under the title “The people want an end to corruption.”
The arrest of Jamal Abu Rihan is part of a clampdown by the PA
government against Facebook users, bloggers and journalists who
criticize the PA leadership or expose corruption.
Abu Rihan was arrested by the PA’s Preventive Security Service, whose
officers also raided and searched his home in the village of Jiftlik
in the Jericho area, Palestinian journalists told The Jerusalem Post.
They said that Abu Rihan had been working for the PA attorney-
general’s office in the West Bank before he was suspended and
subsequently arrested for launching the Facebook campaign. He is
affiliated with the small Palestinian Democratic Union, Fida, which
was founded by PLO Secretary- General Yasser Abed Rabbo.
A PA security source said that Abu Rihan, who has been ordered held
in custody for 15 days, will be charged with defying the PA and its
leaders under a 50-year-old law enacted by Jordan, which held the
West Bank at the time, that bans what is called “extending one’s
tongue” against the leadership.
Voicing outrage over the arrest, scores of Palestinian journalists
staged a demonstration in the center of Ramallah over the weekend to
demand the release of Abu Rihan. The journalists said the ongoing
crackdown on Facebook users, bloggers and journalists in the West
Bank was aimed at intimidating the press and deterring others from
criticizing PA leaders.
“The arrest [of Abu Rihan] is designed to disrupt the anti-corruption
campaign on Facebook,” said Basim Qaddoura. “In whose interest are
they trying to hide corruption?” Another journalist accused the PA
of “fighting against those who are exposing corruption instead of
dealing with those involved in corruption.”
Fida, the group with which Abu Rihan is affiliated, accused PA
Attorney-General Ahmed al- Mughni of seeking to “settle scores” with
the blogger for “personal reasons.” The party did not give further
In the past two weeks, PA security forces have arrested three
journalists on the basis of the controversial “extending one’s
Youssef Shayeb, a correspondent for a Jordanian newspaper, was
arrested after he published a report that exposed corruption in the
Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. Last week he was released
on $7,000 bail pending trial.
Shayeb was arrested following a complaint by PA Foreign Minister Riad
Malki, the head of the mission and his deputy. Malki is also suing
the journalist for $6 million in damages.
While Shayeb was still in detention, PA security officers arrested
journalist, blogger and university lecturer Ismat Abdel Khalik for
insulting PA President Mahmoud Abbas on her Facebook page.
Abdel Khalik, a single mother of two, remains in prison. She is
suspected of having denounced Abbas as a traitor and fascist, and
calling for the dismantling of the PA.
Palestinian journalist Tarek Khamis, who used Facebook to criticize
the arrest of the woman, also found himself in detention last week.
Khamis, who works for a Palestinian news agency in Ramallah, was
interrogated for six hours by Preventive Security Service officers
before he was released on bail. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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