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Palestinian writer under administrative detention

May 4, 2011 4:06 P.M. (Updated: May 5, 2011 1:10 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamish to six months of administrative detention late Tuesday, in an order that appeared to have been tampered with, Palestinian human rights group Addameer said Wednesday.

Israeli judicial authorities had indicated that Qatamish was to be released Tuesday, following 13 days of detention in Israel's Ofer jail, but a last minute order was issued containing inaccurate information, the group said in a statement.

Qatamish's lawyer was told by Ofer military court at noon Tuesday that the writer and intellectual would be release by 5 p.m. that day, the statement said, and Qatamish was given the same information by the Israeli prison service.

At 5:30 p.m. the court summoned Qatamish's lawyer, indicating his detention would be extended, however the counsel was later assured by the military prosecutor that he would be released.

At 7:45 p.m. the lawyer was told a decision would be taken by 9 p.m., and 30 minutes before this deadline, informed that an administrative detention order had been issued for Qatamish.

Addameer said it had a copy of the order, which "disgracefully appears to be a copy of someone else’s detention order that has been tampered with to include Mr. Qatamish’s name."

"This is clear evidence that these orders are not actually issued by the Israeli military commander of the West Bank after careful review of all the evidence against the suspect in question, but rather orchestrated by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the military prosecution," the statement continued.

Addameer added that the order is for an "extension" of Qatamish's administrative detention, despite his not being detained under such conditions for several years.

The order also states that the writer is suspected of being a Hamas member, the group said, calling the claim "absurd" as the previous week Israeli police accused Qatamish of membership of leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group with which he has historically been associated.

Addameer added that the administrative detention order is for six months, and no date for review of the ruling has been set. The group called for the annulment of the order, saying it was a "case of arbitrary detention motivated solely by [Qatamish's] opinions and peaceful activism."

Qatamish was detained on April 21 from his Ramallah home by Israeli troops, and since held at the Ofer detention center at the Beituniya Israeli military base in the West Bank.

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

In 1992 Qatamish 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.
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