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Israel extends detention of Palestinian writer

April 29, 2011 3:25 P.M. (Updated: May 1, 2011 10:30 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian human rights group Addameer on Thursday condemned the extension of Palestinian writer and intellectual Ahmad Qatamish’s detention by Israeli authorities.

Israel’s Ofer military court told Qatamish on Thursday that he would remain behind bars for a further 6 days, after the military judge rejected a request by the police for an 11-day extension, a statement from the rights organization said.

The judge said that the evidence was not sufficient to justify the longer period, but he would be held for further investigation, according to Addameer.

The group expressed concern over the extension, saying it "suggests that [Qatamish] is still being targeted for his writings and peaceful activism and not any ‘security’ reasons as claimed by the Israeli authorities."

Israeli police told the court that Qatamish has in recent months become an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party banned in Israel.

The writer denied the claim, telling the judge his time was spent writing books, articles and lecturing at universities, the statement said.

It continued to cite Qatamish telling the court that he has never shied from making his opinions known regarding "the arbitrary practices of both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities."

Qatamish was detained on April 21 from his Ramallah home by Israeli troops, the statement noted, an hour after the forces had held his wife, 22-year-old daughter and two other female relatives including a 14-year-old child, in another apartment to put pressure on Qatamish.

Since then, he has been held at the Ofer detention center at the Beituniya Israeli military base in the West Bank, and been interrogated for just 10 minutes during his spell in the compound, it continued.

Ahmad Qatamish has had several spells in Israeli jails, and spent 17 years in hiding from 1976 to 1992 to avoid re-arrest.

In 1992 he was held by Israel without charge for six years, writing about his experiences of torture and ill treatment in his prison memoir 'I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush [fez].'

Following an international campaign for his release, he was freed in 1998, and has since been banned from traveling outside Palestinian territory.

He went on to finish his doctorate in political science and has since lectured at Al-Quds University and founded the Munif Barghouti Research Center.

The statement said: "Addameer condemns the decision of the military court, and fears that Qatamish's extended detention will lead to lengthy interrogation and possibly administrative detention."

Qatamish, whose detention will be reviewed on May 3, is being represented by a lawyer from Addameer, who said they will "continue to closely follow his case."
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