Abbas orders end to Internet crackdown (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 05/05/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday instructed the
PA attorney-general to stop the crackdown on freedom of expression
and media and to stop blocking websites.
The decision came following widespread criticism of the PA
leadership´s recent clampdown on journalists and bloggers in the West
At least nine Palestinian journalists, bloggers and anti-corruption
activists have been arrested by PA security forces in the West Bank
in the past two months.
On the instructions of the PA attorney-general, several websites that
were critical of Abbas were blocked by internet providers.
The affected websites were accused of being funded and backed by
ousted Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, one of Abbas´s chief rivals in
the Palestinian territories.
Dahlan, a former security commander in the Gaza Strip, was expelled
from Fatah on charges of corruption. However, Dahlan´s supporters say
he was targeted after criticizing Abbas and his two sons.
"President Abbas has issued clear instructions to all the Palestinian
national security forces to work ensure freedom of expression, which
is a scared right in accordance with the [Palestinian] basic law,"
said a statement issued by Abbas´s office in Ramallah.
"His excellency has also instructed the attorney-general to lift a
ban on all electronic websites and to halt any measure that
contradicts freedom of media and information."
The statement quoted Abbas as urging to the media to be "objective"
in covering events.
Abbas´s decision came in response to sharp criticism from the US, EU
and Western human rights organizations, a Western diplomat and PA
officials told The Jerusalem Post.
They said that US and EU diplomats and government officials had
contacted Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to voice their deep
concern over the clampdown on freedom of expression in PA-controlled
The PA minister of communications, Mashour Daka, resigned two weeks
ago in protest against the decision to block eight websites.
Daka blamed the attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni, for the closure of
the websites and said the decision was illegal.
Most of the Palestinian journalists and bloggers who were arrested
during the crackdown were accused of "extending their tongues"
against Abbas and top PA officials.
One of them Yousef al-Shayeb, was arrested for exposing a corruption
scandal in the PA foreign ministry.
Esmat Abdel Khalik, a female university lecturer and journalist, was
arrested after friend posted on her Facebook page a comment that
denounced Abbas as a "traitor and fascist."
Blogger Jamal Abu Rihan was arrested after creating a Facebook group
called "The people want an end to corruption." (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/05/12)
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