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Photographers detained; journalists threatened, interrogated

(MADA/IFEX) - 12 November 2010 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the detention of four reporters: Reuter's photographers Bassam Massoud, Ahmed Zakut, and Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, and Al Arabiya TV cameraman Mohammed Aljehjouh. The incident took place on 11 November 2010; the journalists were detained by the Internal Security Forces of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip.

MADA also condemns threats via telephone to the correspondent of the Milad news agency and the Palestinian Network for media, Nasr Abu Alfoul, from someone who claimed that he is from the Internal Security Forces in Gaza. MADA also expressed concern over the interrogation of Qais Abu Samra, a correspondent with "Alhaqeqa Aldawliyeh" newspaper.

Photographer Bassam Massoud told MADA that he went to cover a film about the life of Fatah leader Abu Jihad, on the sixth anniversary of the death of former President Yasser Arafat. He was accompanied by his colleagues to the office of the Fatah lawmaker, Ashraf Jomaa, in Rafah. At about 10:00 a.m., a group of Internal Security Force officers raided Jomaa's office, cut off the electricity, and detained all the people who were in the office, including journalists.

After that, they told the journalists to give them their tapes if they wanted to be released, but they refused. The officers then took the journalists to the ISF headquarters in the region of Tal Al-Sultan. Massoud added: "they confiscated cameras and tapes and threatened to break all the cameras, and also attacked us verbally. After about an hour they released us".

Abu Alfoul told the MADA Legal Unit Consultant in Gaza, Karem Nashwan, that he had received three telephone calls during this week from an unknown person who claimed that he was from the internal security service in Gaza. In the first two calls the caller requested that the journalist stop working in the media and writing articles. In the third call, the caller told Abu Alfoul that he must stop his journalistic work and writing articles. He also told the reporter, "The internal security can harm and follow you wherever you are."

In a separate case, on 9 November, the Palestinian intelligence service in Qalqilya in the West Bank summoned "Alhaqeqa Aldawliyeh" newspaper correspondent Abu Samrar. The correspondent was interrogated about the nature of his journalistic work and how he collects information. The journalist was also summoned on 4 November by the intelligence service, where he was interrogated about his journalistic work for two hours.

MADA condemns all violations against Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and demands that the authorities halt the prosecution and harassment of journalists, and respect freedom of opinion and expression.

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