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Official: Gaza security to release detained journalists

Jan. 28, 2013 11:07 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 29, 2013 11:33 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The public freedoms committee, a body set up to implement national reconciliation, has secured an agreement from Gaza's security services to free journalists recently detained in the coastal strip, a representative said Monday.

The detention of six reporters in Gaza over two days last week raised concerns about a setback in the reconciliation process.

As part of the 2011 deal, Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-led government in the West Bank agreed to stop media harassment and politically-motivated arrests.

The committee of public freedoms held a meeting in Gaza City Monday morning for the first time in around a year.

Committee representative Khalid al-Batsh, who is also a senior leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, said Gaza’s internal security service had agreed to release the jailed journalists. Some were already released on Sunday night, he said.

Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday asked his security services to hand him all files of the recent detainees. He said in a statement that he asked to review their cases in order to determine what to do with the detainees.

The public freedoms committee is tasked with hammering out a number of tenets of the unity deal, including political prisoners, passports, closure of institutions, travel bans and freedom of political expression.

Deputy secretary-general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Fida Khalid al-Khatib told Ma'an that Monday's meeting would discuss how to reactivate their work after the committee was inactive for about a year.

The committee had decided to suspend its work because none of its recommendations were implemented, especially those related to political detainees and public freedoms, he said.
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