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Hamas summons Ma'an bureau chief in Gaza

July 30, 2013 3:11 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 2, 2013 1:28 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas authorities in Gaza on Tuesday summoned the bureau chief of Ma'an's Gaza office for questioning and confiscated the keys to the office, a journalists' union said.

Abed al-Nasser al Najjar, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists' Union, said that the group has filed a complaint against the office of Gaza's public prosecutor for violating press freedoms and stifling freedom of expression.

The closure of Ma'an's Gaza office, as ordered by Gaza's prosecutor general on July 25, is a step to permanently taking control of the office, al-Najjar said.

Hamas authorities could confiscate content from the office, or install spyware devices to monitor journalists, the union chairman added.

The group will contact international journalists' unions to pressure Hamas authorities to reopen the office, which has been closed since July 25.

Last Thursday, the attorney-general in the Hamas-run government ordered the closure of the Ma'an News Agency and Al-Arabiya TV bureaus in Gaza.

A Hamas official told AFP that the attorney-general closed Al-Arabiya's office "for distributing false news regarding the smear campaign against Hamas and Gaza about what's happening in Egypt."

The closure order from the attorney-general was delivered to Ma'an by officials from the Hamas-run Ministry of Information and security forces.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said that Hamas "should immediately revoke the summary closure of two media offices."

"If the Gaza authorities think that these news outlets have misrepresented them, it should be easy enough to provide accurate information and debunk their stories, but they shouldn't just shut down their critics," said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch.
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