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Haniyeh orders release of journalists from Gaza jails

Jan. 28, 2013 5:33 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 30, 2013 1:57 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has ordered the release of journalists recently detained in the Gaza Strip, a government official said Monday.

Ihab al-Ghussain, head of the government information office, said in a statement that security services would release the journalists on Monday.

On Sunday, Haniyeh asked for the detained journalists' files to review their cases after the detention of six reporters sparked criticism from local and international press freedom groups.

The public freedoms committee, a body set up to implement national reconciliation, met on Monday for the first time in around a year and secured an agreement from Gaza's security services to free the journalists, said committee representative Khalid al-Batsh.

Al-Batsh said some of the journalists had already been released.

On Wednesday, the Hamas government flatly denied arresting any journalists, a Ma'an correspondent said after a meeting with interior ministry officials in Gaza City.

A statement from the interior ministry said that "The summons of a number of persons with different jobs was to question them on certain issues that threaten the security of the community."

It added: "Those persons are not journalists at all. Even those who work as journalists use this field as a cover to carry out suspicious acts."

The journalists are employees of al-Katab satellite channel, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, the websites Fatah Youth and Aswar press, and al-Hurriya radio as well as other news outlets.
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