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  MADA calls for immediate release of journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh

22 October 2010

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) calls competent authorities to take immediate action to release Alquds TV correspondent Mamdouh Hamamreh (26 Years old). The journalist is from Bethlehem city in the south of West Bank, and he is in civilian prison in Bethlehem since 19 September 2010.

Hamamreh’s suffering has began  from the first September 2010, when a group of individuals belonging to the Palestinian intelligence service came to his home and took him to the intelligence headquarters in Bethlehem. After three days he was released after being questioned about his work in Alquds TV, but they asked him to return back on 18 September 2010, but he went there in the next day because could not go in that date, and they arrested him upon his arrival there.

In the next day, Hamamreh was sent to the public prosecutor in Bethlehem, where they decided to detain him for two days to complete the investigation, and two days later he was sent to the court once again to be charged with libel and slander to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 of 1960 which applied in the West Bank.  The charge was based on the claim of the Palestinian intelligence service that they found a picture that depicting the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas beside the picture of Maomoun Beek (who is traitor) in Bab Aharah serial, on his own account on the social website "Facebook".

Hamamreh said that he did not upload the image which depicting the President on his Facebook account, the picture was sent to him by unknown person, named Nadim Qaisi. On the other wise his Father said that members of the intelligence service came to his home on Thursday evening 23 September 2010 and they confiscated his work laptop, and his family’s computer, then they forced Hamamreh to give them the password of his Facebook account.

The court approved the prosecution's request to extend the detention of Hamamreh for 15 days pending investigation. After the court's decision, Hamamreh’s lawyer in cooperation with MADA legal unit lawyer Sana Aranki requested a release on bail, but the court dismissed it, another request was dismissed again on 28 September 2010.

Fifteen days later on 5 October 2010, the Court issued a decision to extend his detention again for another fifteen days to complete the investigation. The journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh said that he was interrogated just on the first day of his detention. The court also has extended his detention for the third time on 20 October 2010.

On 11 October 2010, the lawyer Sana’ Aranki filed a complaint to the General Attorney; it was registered under number 4527/2010. Aranki also met him and explained to him all the excesses and the circumstances concerning Hamamreh’s arrest, she also told him that he was banned from visiting since his arrest. But unfortunately Aranki’s attempt did not work, when she went to review the General Attorney’s decision, they told her that he refused the complaint, and he left the decision to the court. In addition they also refused to give her a formal letter in his decision.

The lawyer Aranki emphasized that Hamamreh’s arrest procedures and his continuous arrest are incompatible with the Palestinian law for these reasons:

When the Palestinian Intelligence service arrested the journalists they violated the article 11 in the Palestinian Amended Basic Law which says: “It is unlawful to arrest, search, imprison, restrict the freedom, or prevent the movement of any person, except by judicial order in accordance with the provisions of the law. The law shall specify the period of pre arrest detention. Imprisonment or detention shall only be permitted in places that are subject to laws related to the organization of prisons.

Hamamreh’s charges in libel and slander on the base of article 188, as well as charge of contempt on the basis of article 190 to a Palestinian citizen is invalid because the Penal Code No. 16 of 1960 which currently applied in the West Bank has expressly provided that there are certain offenses the complaint just be accepted if the abused person submit it and asked for his personal right. (Review Article 364 in the Jordanian penal code no. 16 of 1960).

The court continuous extended of the journalist’s detention in the pretext to complete the investigation is not justified, because the journalists assured that he was just interrogated in the first day of  his detention.

The charge of “lengthen the tongue” to the Palestinian Authority President on the bases of article 195 which specialized in harming the dignity of the king is not valid, because the system in the Palestine is presidential and not royal. And the law is clear and applied in literal text. The Article 3 in the law says: “No judgment of any penalty it is not prescribed in the law when the crime committed’.

MADA center emphasized again on the need to release the journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh immediately, and calls for the halt of arresting the journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories, and to respect the freedom of expression which guaranteed in the article 19 in the Palestinian Basic Law, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.