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Palestinian Journalists Syndicate slams Hamas for arrest of journalist

July 19, 2017 5:20 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2017 5:20 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip branch of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate accused Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the small Palestinian territory, of pressuring jailed Palestinian journalist Fouad Jaradeh to give false testimony in a wider campaign by Hamas to suppress dissent in Gaza.

Jaradeh, a reporter for Palestine TV, the official broadcaster for Hamas rivals the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, was detained on June 8 when his computer and mobile phone was also confiscated.

In a statement released Tuesday, the syndicate condemned the ongoing detention of Jaradeh by Hamas’ internal security agency as a “poorly orchestrated farce” and an attempt to “convict the victim."

The statement said that the journalist’s testimony was being forced “under the pressure of a whip,” presumably alleging that interrogators were subjecting Jaradeh to physical torture or other forms of coercion. 

Palestinian security forces in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank have repeatedly been accused of inflicting torture on detainees, including journalists. 

The journalists syndicate said a delegation of journalists and representatives of human rights organizations were able to meet with Jaradeh at the internal security agency’s headquarters.

However, the statement accused the internal security agency of disingenuously arranging the meeting to distract the syndicate and others who have called for Jaradah’s immediate release, and said he was brought before the delegation and "coerced to give a false testimony” before them.

The statement did not elaborate on the details of the testimony given.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement last Friday when Jaradeh’s detention was renewed for 15 days, condemning his detention.

According to CPJ, Jaradeh’s work has spanned a range of issues, including interviews with locals about how the isolated territory's deteriorating economy affects their day-to-day lives.

"Fouad Jaradeh's arrest illustrates the pressure that Palestinian journalists face from all sides," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour was quoted in the statement as saying. "Hamas authorities should release Fouad Jaradeh immediately and should not deny Palestinians in the West Bank the right to receive news from Gaza."

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (Mada) released a report on Wednesday documenting a significant increase in Palestinian violations of media freedoms, by both the PA and Hamas, in June compared to the previous month. 

The report highlighted Jaradeh’s case and quoted members of his family as saying they were still unaware of the reasons for or circumstances of the arrest.
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