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Palestinian Journalists Syndicate demands PA release journalists from jail

Aug. 9, 2017 6:41 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2017 6:42 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) released a statement on Wednesday demanding the release of five Palestinian journalists who were detained by Palestinian security forces on Tuesday night, and called their arrests a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression.”

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the five Palestinian journalists -- identified as Mamdouh Hamamreh, Tareq Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Ahmad Halaiqa, and Qutaybeh Salem -- were detained by Palestinian security forces for leaking “sensitive information to hostile parties.”

In their statement, PJS condemned the arrests, saying that the move was “an organized attack against the freedom of journalism,” and a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression and opinion.”

PJS called for the immediate release of the five journalists and held the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), responsible on the security and political level for the arrests.

Journalists and the media should be removed from any political steps made by both parties -- the Fatah-led PA and Hamas -- in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, the statement said.

Both the PA and the Hamas movement, the de facto leaders in Gaza, have been accused of retaliatory and politically motivated arrests in both territories, as the more than a decade-long conflict between the two groups escalated in recent months.

The syndicate reminded the PA of the Palestinian journalist and correspondent for the PA-run Palestine TV Fouad Jaradeh, who has been imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza for more than two months.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) also condemned the journalists’ arrests in a statement, saying that the arrests are “part of a marked escalation of violations against media freedoms and a blatant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, which protects freedom of expression and the press.”

MADA also called on the Palestinian security services to release all Palestinian journalists held in jails in the West Bank and Gaza and to “stop the policy of arresting journalists, and keep these journalists far from the internal political division and their internal frictions.”
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