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Radio station closed by Hamas in Gaza; journalist released after five days in detention

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns Hamas's closure of "Voice of the People," a radio station operated by the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in Gaza City on 2 August 2008.

"The Islamist party Hamas must stop arbitrarily targeting news media just because they do not blindly relay its propaganda," the press freedom organisation said. "Press freedom is under serious threat in the Gaza Strip and this is due largely to the behaviour of Hamas."

PFLP spokesman Quayed El Ghoul told Reporters Without Borders: "Hamas security forces raided the radio station without any warning. They then told the station's staff that the station was banned from broadcasting and was closed by decision of the interior ministry."

Ghoul added: "There are no grounds for acting in this manner and we call on our Hamas brothers to rescind this decision and to allow a respite for free expression. Acting like this is contrary to press freedom and free speech."

The station's closure comes on the backdrop of a wave of arrests on 25 July that followed a car bombing that killed five Hamas supporters and a girl. Several journalists were among those arrested, including Sawah Abu Saif, a cameraman who works for German TV station ARD. He was freed five days later.

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