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HRW: Israel must stop harassing Addameer staff

Oct. 26, 2012 3:53 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 31, 2012 12:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Israel to stop harassing members of prisoner rights group Addameer.

"It’s deeply ironic that Israel is arbitrarily detaining a researcher who has documented arbitrary detention, and violating the rights of the head of a human rights group," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW regional director.

On Oct. 15, Israel arrested Addameer's researcher Ayman Nasser in a night raid on his home in Saffa, near Ramallah.

Nasser told his lawyer he had been interrogated over media interviews he gave, and his work with a youth center in his village. Addameer says the Handala center holds educational and artistic events in Saffa.

The researcher told an Israeli military court on Saturday that he had been blindfolded and shackled during interrogation sessions up to 10 hours long, and that Israeli officials had not allowed him to receive three of five medicines he needs.

Addameer has expressed particular concern about Nasser's health, noting that until his arrest he was receiving constant medical treatment by specialized doctors for health issues including an inflamed colon and back pain. When not being interrogated, Nasser is being held in isolation, Addameer says.

Nasser told the military court that "every human being has opinions and positions and if it's not violating the law he can freely think and speak these opinions.

"I am a human rights defender who supports the Palestinian prisoners and I represent my opinions in the public media. My thoughts are not secret, they are public, and everyone knows them."

Nasser has not been charged with any crime or allowed to see any evidence against him. His detention was renewed on Wednesday for another nine days.

Meanwhile, Israel has banned Addameer's chairman Abdullatif Ghaith, 71, from traveling abroad since August. Israel's military has also banned him from entering the West Bank, where Addameer's offices are located, from East Jerusalem, where he lives, since October 2011.

"The refusal of the Israeli authorities to make public any evidence to substantiate the reasons for the travel ban against Ghaith means that he has been denied a meaningful opportunity to challenge the ban in court," HRW said in a statement.

"Israel should provide valid justifications for its measures against Nasser and Ghaith or drop those measures immediately," the US-based group added.
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