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Palestinian security forces detain Al Jazeera crew, erase footage

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the erasure of Al Jazeera video footage by Palestinian Authority security officials on 15 June 2009 on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron. The erased footage dealt with a suspect's death in detention.

"Journalists must be able to work freely," Reporters Without Borders said. "The erasure of this video footage proves that the Palestinian security forces try to cover up their human rights violations. This incident should be the subject of an enquiry by the Palestinian Authority."

Walid Omari, the head of the Qatar-based satellite TV station's operations in the West Bank, told Reporters Without Borders that his crew was preparing a report on the death of a detainee at the Palestinian Authority detention centre in Hebron that might have been the result of torture.

"We were the only ones to investigate this case and we did it despite strong pressure from the Palestinian Authority," Omari said.

Al Jazeera's Hebron correspondent went with a cameraman to the deceased detainee's home in the village of Dura, where they interviewed the family and filmed the body. As they were returning to Hebron in a vehicle displaying the word "Press," they were detained by Palestinian Authority security forces at a checkpoint and taken to a police post, where the video footage they had just recorded was erased. They were allowed to go after an hour.

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