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Journalist 'kidnapped, assaulted' by Hamas forces in Gaza

Sept. 4, 2012 6:37 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2012 6:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The chief editor of a news agency in the Gaza Strip was kidnapped and assaulted by members of the internal security forces in late August, a press freedom group reported Tuesday.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms strongly condemned the kidnapping in a statement. It identified the journalist as Saher Aqraa of Ashola news agency.

The group said Aqraa was held from Aug. 23-30 and was assaulted during his detention.

According to Aqraa, he was first stopped by seven cars outside his home in Gaza City but escaped. Soon after masked and armed men kidnapped and blindfolded him before taking him away.

"I was subjected to a humiliating (interrogation) by several people about my work, my news website and my political affiliations. During the investigation they extinguished cigarette butts in my back and beat me severely," Aqraa said in testimony provided by Mada.

On Aug. 30, he said, "I was able to escape from the apartment where I was being detained. The severe beatings had left me with a leg wound, and I hid in a friend’s house. After my escape, Al-Qassam (Brigades) men and internal security searched for me but were unable to find me."

Mada demanded that the Hamas government end its persecution of Aqraa due to his work with the news agency, and expressed concern at his abduction and assault.
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