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Ashrawi 'concerned by assaults on free expression'

April 8, 2012 6:56 P.M. (Updated: April 11, 2012 9:16 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi expressed concern on Sunday about recent assaults on free speech.

"Freedom of expression and access to information is enshrined in the basic principles of the Palestinian Basic Law ... it is unacceptable to detain journalists, bloggers or Palestinian activists," the official, who is also head of the PLO Department of Culture and Media, said in a statement.

Palestinian forces have detained two journalists, an academic, and at least one other person in recent weeks for reports and Facebook comments critical of the Palestinian Authority, which authorities say are slanderous.

The arrests have provoked outcry among local and international press freedom groups. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has launched a boycott of the new PA-sponsored press freedom prize, announced amid the wave of detentions.

Ashrawi called on Sunday for the protection of journalists, and steps to enable them to work freely.

"This attack on civil liberties is a dangerous precedent affecting the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, and will undermine the building of a free, democratic and pluralistic society," Ashrawi said.

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