MADA: abduction and persecution of journalist in Gaza a serious violation of freedom of expression
Ramallah - 03/09/2012: The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the kidnapping and assault of a senior journalist in Gaza, and his week-long detention.
MADA says Alsho’la news agency chief editor Saher Aqra’ was kidnapped by men affiliated with internal security in Gaza and assaulted while being detained, from 23 August 2012 until 30 August 2012.
Aqra’ told MADA Center that while returning from his family home to his house in Gaza City, on Salah al-Din Street, seven cars blocked his way. He escaped once and continued on his way, but when he reached the area of Al-Saraya, Aqra said he was blocked again by a jeep and two cars. Masked and armed men then kidnapped and blindfolded him and took him to an unknown location.
Aqra’ added:"I was subjected to a humiliating interrogated by several people about my work, my news website and my political affiliations. During the investigation they extinguished cigarette butts in my back and beat me severely. On Saturday 30 August I was able to escape from the apartment where I was being detained. The severe beatings had left me with a leg wound, and I hid in a friend’s house. After my escape, Al-Qassam men and internal security searched for me but were unable to find me. "
Aqra’ was forced to close the news agency after persons connected to the Hamas Government put pressure on his family.
MADA demands the Hamas Government in Gaza immediately the persecution of Aqra’, who was summoned for investigation numerous times by Internal Security, due to his work at Alsho'la news agency. MADA also expresses the highest possible concern at Aqra’s abduction and assault.