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Journalist's office ransacked; another summoned for investigation

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah, June 19, 2012 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) questions the summoning of journalist Yahya Almadhoun by the internal security services in the Gaza Strip, in order to investigate his recent writings, as well as the recent attack on the journalist Najib Farraj's office in Bethlehem.

MADA received confirmation from the freelance journalist Yahya Almadhoun that he was summoned on Sunday, June 17 by the internal security headquarters in Jabalia. When he arrived at 6 pm, he was taken into custody and remained there without questioning until 10 p.m., at which time he was released. No one spoke to him during that time but upon his release, the officers ordered him to return at 9 a.m. the following morning. Almadhoun reports, “I went there on Monday [June 18], and they questioned me about an article I wrote on the division between Fatah and Hamas and about the death of my brother Samih Almadhoun. They ordered me not to address issues related to the government or to criticize them.”

In the West Bank, Al-Quds Newspaper correspondent Najib Farraj reported to MADA that a group of unidentified trespassers broke into his Bethlehem office around 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 14. They ransacked the office, damaging papers and news reports from as far back as 1994. Farraj had left the office at about 6 pm and received a call from neighbors at about 8:30 p.m. alerting him of the break-in. Upon returning, he found an old article of his from Al-Ayyam Newspaper conspicuously placed at the scene, which was entitled, “During his visit to Jenin: Fayyad emphasizes the rule of law and public order as a top priority in Jenin.” The lack of severe damage or theft suggests that the break-in was intended as an unmistakable threat to him and his work.

MADA condemns these violations against journalists and their work and calls for an end to the suppression of journalistic freedoms in Palestine and for the protection of freedom of opinion and expression that is guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law. MADA also demands a full investigation into the attack on Farraj's office and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

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