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Committee formed to investigate actions against television and radio station; Alnajah press office director detained

(MADA/IFEX) - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) welcomes Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mashhur Abu Dika's decision to form a committee to investigate recent actions against television and radio stations and a raid on Nablus TV by ministry and Customs Brigade employees.

The director of Nablus TV, Mahmoud Barham, said that the director of the Communications Section at the Communication and Information Technology Ministry in Nablus, the director of the Customs Brigade, and an assistant arrived at the television station's headquarters on 3 August and demanded that they close the station and stop broadcasting, without displaying a formal order to do so. When the station personnel refused to do as they demanded, the officials summoned police support. They also harassed workers from the station, confiscating cameras and deleting images from them, because they filmed the incident.

Barham said, "According to Palestinian law, the ministry must resort to the justice system in cases involving any infractions by television stations." He added that Nablus TV had recently fulfilled 99% of its legal requirements.

It is worth noting that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology issued notices to 19 radio and television stations on 25 July, asking them to stop broadcasting and to correct their "positions" within one month or they would be closed permanently.

There are 25 private television stations in the West Bank, and 65 radio stations.

At the same time, MADA also condemns the 2 August 2010 arrest of Alnajah press office director and Alnajah University lecturer Dr. Farid Abu Duhair by Palestinian Intelligence Service members in Nablus city.

Dr. Abu Duhair's wife said that armed individuals in civilian clothes belonging to the Palestinian Intelligence Service came to their home in Nablus at about 11:00 p.m. on 2 August and asked her husband to accompany them to the intelligence headquarters. When he asked why he was being requested to do so, the response was that the intelligence director wanted to meet with him for an hour. However Dr. Abu Duhair did not return and, as of 11:00 a.m. on 4 August, his wife had not heard from him and did know his whereabouts.

MADA condemns all violations of the rights of media institutions and journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories, viewing them as flagrant violations of freedom of expression. The organisation calls on the authorities to release Dr. Abu Duhair.

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