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PCHR slams Hamas for preventing journalists from traveling

Nov. 4, 2012 7:52 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 5, 2012 3:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian rights group on Sunday condemned authorities in Gaza for preventing two journalists from leaving the coastal enclave to participate in a media conference in Cairo.

Majid Shoblaq, a reporter for al-Masrya Channel, and his wife Hanan Abu-Doghaim, a program host at al-Iman radio station, were prevented from traveling through the Rafah crossing on Oct. 31 to attend a Cairo conference entitled "Future Vision of the Independent Arab Media and Civil Society Organizations," the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement.

After completing travel procedures at the Rafah crossing, both journalists were questioned by security officials.

"I was interrogated by the Internal Security Service for approximately 45 minutes. I was asked about the nature of the conference and the participants' selection mechanism. I was also questioned about my political affiliation," Shoblaq told PCHR.

"An Internal Security Service officer confiscated our passports, removed the traveling stamps and told us to obtain a permit from the Government Media Office in order to attend the conference," he added.

On Nov. 1, Shoblaq was summoned by the Government Media Office and told that the incident had been a "misunderstanding", he told PCHR.

"We talked about the conference's nomination and selection mechanisms, and eventually, he told me that he has no objection to my traveling. However, when I asked him if I could travel he said 'no,' and that I should get a permit from the Director of the Office, Mr. Ihab al-Ghussain," Shoblaq said.

PCHR said that "the right to freedom of opinion and expression and press freedoms are guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant human rights conventions," stressing that the media must be allowed to work freely.
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