PA again stifling critical journalists, bloggers (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 05/24/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
After a two-week lull, the Palestinian Authority has resumed its
crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers in the West Bank.
The clampdown, which began three months ago, has targeted journalists
and bloggers who reported on corruption cases in PA institutions or
posted censorious comments on Facebook.
The ongoing campaign comes despite promises by PA leaders to stop
arresting and harassing Palestinian journalists and bloggers,
especially those commenting on Facebook.
At least nine journalists and bloggers have been arrested or
interrogated by various branches of the PA security forces. The PA
has also blocked a number of news websites belonging to Palestinians
who are critical of President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian General Intelligence Service detained
Shadi Zamara, a 27- year-old journalist and blogger, and questioned
him about his work and comments he had posted on Facebook.
Zamara said he received a phone call from a man who identified
himself as an officer for the General Intelligence Service, asking
him to report for questioning.
“When I went there, I was interrogated about my journalistic work and
activities on Facebook,” Zamara said. “The interrogation focused
mainly on articles I had published and [those] which included
criticism of the Palestinian Authority.”
After two and a half hours of questioning, Zamara was released and
told to report back for further interrogation next week.
But half an hour after he left the service’s offices, he received
another phone call asking him to return immediately for questioning.
“When I arrived, they put me inside a room and closed the door,”
Zamara recounted in a statement to the SKeyes Center for Media and
“I started shouting, demanding that they release me. I told them that
I came voluntarily and there was no need for this kind of treatment.
Then one of the interrogators entered the room and demanded to know
why my case was already on Facebook.”
Zamara told the interrogator that because he was a journalist, he saw
there was a need to inform the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and
the PA’s Government Press Office of the decision to summon him for
“I believe that there is a campaign against journalists and that the
Palestinian Authority is following all of our activities,” he
said. “This is a clear violation of freedom of media.”
In a related development, 88 percent of Palestinians believe that the
recent arrests of journalists and bloggers in the West Bank is
unjustified, a public opinion poll published on Wednesday showed.
The poll, which was conducted by the independent Ramallah- based
research center AWRAD, covered some 1,200 Palestinians and had a
margin of error of plus/minus 3 percentage points.
More than 60% of respondents in the Gaza Strip and 27% in the West
Bank believe freedom of speech has diminished compared to 10 years
ago, the poll found.
An overwhelming majority of Palestinians, about 80%, said that both
Palestinian governments were censoring freedom of expression, the
According to the results, 84% of Palestinians support holding
immediate elections in the Palestinian territories, and 55% are in
favor of the resumption of peace talks with Israel. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/24/12)
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