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PA summons Palestinian columnist for interrogation

Oct. 31, 2012 7:53 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 8, 2012 10:52 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday summoned a Palestinian columnist to answer charges of libel and slander, a media rights group reported.

Jihad Harb was summoned by the public prosecutor after a complaint was filed by the president's office, said Mada, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms.

Harb is accused of a "direct insult to the employees in the Office of the President, through an article was written about two months ago," Mada said in a statement.

Attorney Raed Abdul-Hamid and a team of legal officials including the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate accompanied Harb to the interrogation, the group said.

Mada said it "condemns the continued and widening prosecution of journalists and writers on the back of their opinions and writings," and demanded an end to Harb's prosecution specifically.

"We express our concerns on the increasing number of complaints filled to the General Attorney this year that related to freedom of expression," the group said.

"This became a kind of indirect punishment to suppress freedom of expression through creating an atmosphere of fear," it said.

Last Wednesday the Palestinian Authority released two journalists on bail after they were arrested in September by preventive security forces, Mada said.

Walid Khaled of the Filistin newspaper and Quds press agency correspondent Mohamed Mona were arrested on Sept. 18 from their homes in Salfit and Nablus.

Both journalists were also detained by Israeli forces earlier this year.

Mada says nine journalists were arrested in the West Bank by PA forces in the first six months of 2012.

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