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Journalist Omar Al-Ghul freed after being held by Hamas for 49 days

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release on 1 February 2008 of Omar Al-Ghul, a columnist with the pro-Fatah newspaper "Al-Hayat Al-Jadida", who had been held by the Islamist party Hamas for 49 days. Another of the newspaper's journalists, Gaza bureau chief Munir Abu Rizq, is still being held by Hamas.

"The situation of press freedom in the Gaza Strip has become one of the worst in the region," Reporters Without Borders said. "We appeal to Hamas' leaders to put an end to their harassment of journalists who support the Palestinian Authority. Ghul's release is good news even if it comes after more than two months in captivity. We hope Rizq will now benefit from another Hamas goodwill gesture."

Ghul, 52, was released from Gaza's Saraya prison. As well as a columnist, he is also an adviser to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He was arrested at his home on 14 December 2007 by members of the Executive Force, Hamas' armed wing.

"I am happy to be free," he told Reporters Without Borders. "Freedom is a wonderful thing, especially after 50 days of unwarranted detention."

Rizq was arrested on 15 January in Gaza.

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