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Palestinian journalists complain of freedom of speech violations, including arrests, threats, and media shutdowns

Official PA TV program Media Café, on freedom of press in the West Bank, hosting PA Security Forces spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri and journalist Nihad Abu Ghosh .

A young man talks about his arrest: “I lived in Norway for three years; I was an asylum seeker in the Kingdom of Norway, and during that time I was the spokesman for the Palestinian refugees in Oslo. I met [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas in the Grand Hotel in Oslo and asked him a few questions, and also emphasized our support for establishing a State of Palestine through the president’s efforts in this direction.

When I returned to the Palestinian territories, at the Jericho border, I was surprised to discover that my name was number 137 on a list of people that were expected. I was immediately sent to an interrogation room where I spent eight hours at first. I was then given a document [instructing me] to go to the Intelligence Headquarters in Tubas.
I went, and they had clear instructions to arrest me. I spent ten days in a closed cell, in conditions that were inhumane even for detention. Ten days of continuous interrogations and psychological pressure and threats. There was no physical violence, but there was psychological abuse and threats of violence if I would not answer the questions.

Among other things, [they asked]: ‘Why were you insolent towards the president? Who motivated you to do this? Who encouraged you? Who asked you to [do so]?’
And my answer was clear all the time, and now the video of my interview with the president is on YouTube. The interview was respectful and the president welcomed me courteously.”

Journalist Nihad Abu Ghosh: “Arrests are not the only violations. There are different kinds of violations, for example electronic: preventing the distribution of some of the newspapers.”

Official PA TV host: “And shutting down a few media institutions.”

Journalist Nihad Abu Ghosh: “Summons, delays, interrogations, threats. There are all sorts of violations taking place and in any case, they are not documented. Some people are even frightened of talking about what they experienced.”

[PA Security Forces spokesman Al-Damiri suggests that any journalist whose rights were violated file a complaint at the Security Forces’ headquarters]

Official PA TV host: “Security [Forces] personnel attacked journalists last June 31 and July 1 [2012] – the [Palestinian] Journalists’ Syndicate filed a complaint against them at the [PA] Ministry of Interior. What has been done about the matter?”

PA Security Forces spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri:
“First of all, we are not obligated [to publish], and in fact are forbidden from publishing, disciplinary punishments not imposed by the court. Just as when a TV employee receives an internal [disciplinary] punishment – does the director [of the] TV [station] officially announce that so and so was punished?’”

Official PA TV host: “No, you are right.”

Official PA spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri: “But our brothers in the [Palestinian] Journalists’ Syndicate, thanks to the relationship and ties among us, can come and ask what happened, even though this is illegal.”

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