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MADA demands an end to the prosecution of journalists for their writings on Facebook

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) is strongly concerned about the multiplication of cases of arrest and prosecution of journalists and activists by Palestinian authorities for their writings on social networks. The latest instances were the arrest of Filisteen Al-Yaum TV producer Mujahed Al-Sa’di (aged 26) and that of the head of Birzeit University Media Club Bara’ Al-Qadi (aged 22).

 

The Palestinian Intelligence Services arrested Al-Sa’di from his brother’s house in Jenin on Friday 19/9/2014 and released him in the evening of Saturday 20/9/2014. He reported to MADA that he was apprehended for insulting Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad on his Facebook page and for accusing him of treason.

 

Al-Qadi was arrested on 14/9/2014 and is still under arrest. On Tuesday 16/9 the Court in Ramallah extended his arrest for another 15 days. He is accused of defaming the public authority in journalistic posts he published on social networks and information websites such as Al-Quds and Wattan. According to his sister Tasneem, he was arrested for expressing his political views. His lawyer Muhannad Karaja said that the release request he submitted last Thursday was rejected. Karaja has submitted another request for releasing Al-Qadi on bail.

 

Three other citizens have been detained and investigated by the Palestinian Security Services for their writings on Facebook during the past months. Pharmacist Ra’ed Al-Qubbaj was arrested in September, and Raya FM Network sound technician Tamer Kahla and Asda’ correspondent Qutaiba Saleh Qassem were subjected to investigation in July.

 

MADA demands the release of Al-Qadi and an end to the arrest and prosecution of journalists and activists for their writings on social networks. These arrests have no legal justification since the law gives anyone the right to litigate in cases of defamation. Besides, the trend worldwide is towards either not implementing existing provisions allowing arrest and prosecution of journalists and those who express publicly their opinion, or amending national legislations to prohibit explicitly such measures. MADA also urges journalists and activists to improve the wording of their criticism and avoid using insults, libel and blasphemous language.

 

 

Photo By: Wattan Tv