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MADA condemns military court's decision to imprison journalist for a year and a half

(MADA/IFEX) - 17 February 2010 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expresses its concern over the decision of the military court in Nablus city (West Bank) to imprison former Aqsa TV correspondent Tarek Abu Zeid for a year and a half.

Abu Zeid's father, Abdul Razik Abu Zeid, said that he was supposed to visit his son in jail on 13 February, but was prevented from doing so. He also added: "My son was arrested on 8 November 2009 because he was working with Aqsa TV, then the Supreme Court of Justice issued a decision to release him on 12 January 2010, but no one has responded to the court's decision, although we have sent the court's decision in an official letter to the Attorney General and the Prime Minister."

Abu Zeid's lawyer, Bassam Karajeh, said that the military court decision was illegal for two reasons: first, because Abu Zeid is a civilian and according to Palestinian law it is not permissible for the military court to try civilians, no matter on what grounds they are being indicted and second, because the Supreme Court of Justice issued a decision to release him, so his continued detention was unlawful. Karajeh added that there has not been any indictment against Abu Zeid and the talk about his involvement in money and information transfers is not true. The lawyer said that even if it was true, he would have to be tried in civil court.

It is worth mentioning that Dr. Salam Fayyad's government banned Aqsa TV from working in the West Bank on 16 September 2007.

MADA calls on the authorities to retract the decision to imprison Abu Zeid for a year and a half, to release him and all other arrested journalists immediately and to respect freedom of expression in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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