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Palestinian forces detain journalist for 'false reports' against PA

Jan. 10, 2016 7:19 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2016 11:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Authority security forces detained Palestinian journalist and Ma’an News Network board of directors member Salim Sweidan on Thursday.

Sweidan was reportedly detained due to a report published on the website of Nablus TV, which Sweidan runs in the northern West Bank. The report accused the PA’s preventive security service in Nablus of helping Israel detain locals from the village of Beit Furik who allegedly shot dead an Israeli settler and his wife on Oct. 1, 2015.

An Israeli military spokesperson said at the time that several shots were fired at the settlers' car from a passing vehicle, which fled to a nearby Palestinian village following the shooting.

Nablus prosecution accused Sweidan of slandering public authorities, making up and publishing false news, violating Palestinian press laws, publishing items which contravene nationalistic responsibilities, breaching journalistic ethics, publishing material inciting hatred and violence, and publishing material that can harm national unity.

The district attorney decided on Sunday to extend his remand for 24 hours.

Ma’an Network’s board of directors have strongly denounced Sweidan's detention, saying that “preventive security should have denied the report if it was not true, rather than treat journalists this way."

The board of directors added that human rights groups and international organizations should exert efforts to free Sweidan, adding that Sweidan suffers from high blood pressure which could “endanger his life” if he remained in custody.

The Palestinian Center for Developments and Media Freedoms (MADA) has documented a number of incidents of Palestinian Authority infringement on journalists' rights.

PA security forces in last month assaulted several journalists and prevented them from covering clashes that broke out between the forces and protesters in al-Bireh in the central West Bank.

MADA also reported in June that violations by Palestinian security forces in 2014 had reached their highest since 2008.

Palestinian journalists also come under severe restrictions and violations from Israeli forces, with 2014 marking a particularly deadly year for reporters, 17 of whom were reportedly killed by Israeli forces during the war in the Gaza Strip.
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