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France 24 journalist harassed by Hamas

(RSF/IFEX) - 29 June 2011 - Salama Atallah, the Gaza Strip correspondent of the French TV news station France 24's Arabic service, was interrogated by Hamas security officials on 26 June for the fourth time in a month over a report he did for the service about a clandestine Salafist group operating in Gaza.

Dubbed "Palestine's Taliban," the group is believed to have been responsible for the 15 April murder of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza. Although Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip's government since June 2007, it is behaving as if it was unaware of the group's existence before Atallah's report was broadcast on 9 May.

Prior to the 26 June interrogation session, Atallah was questioned on 19 and 22 May and on 21 June. And now he has been summoned for a fifth interrogation on 30 June, he told Reporters Without Borders.

The same methods are used each time. He is kept waiting for several hours before the interrogation. Then the insults, threats and blows begin. He is asked who these "Palestinian Taliban" are. They want names. Each time, Atallah has insisted on his right as a journalist not to disclose his sources.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the persecution of Atallah and calls on the Hamas authorities to end their constant hounding of journalists in the Gaza Strip.

In one of the latest examples of this harassment, the Hamas security forces banned Amru Al-Fara, the correspondent of the Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa, from covering high school diploma exams in the southern town of Khan Yunis on 20 June although he was carrying an education ministry document. He was subsequently summoned by the police and had to sign an undertaking not to continue covering the exams for Wafa.

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