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Outspoken critic of Hamas chooses self-censorship after release from prison

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 13 January 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the way Hamas mistreats journalists in the Gaza Strip and thereby forces them to censor themselves.

Ayman Alul, an outspoken journalist who works for an Iraqi TV station and often posts videos on Facebook, has announced that he will no longer cover living conditions or political developments in the Hamas-governed territory after being held for eight days.

Alul is regarded as controversial because of his criticism of living conditions in the Gaza Strip. Hamas members arrested him at his home on the evening of 3 January, confiscating his computer and mobiles phones during a search of his home. He was finally released on 11 January.

Accused by Hamas of disturbing public order and manipulating public opinion, he said he was tortured all the time he was held, a clearly traumatic experience that has led to this decision to censor himself in future.

“Hamas is trying to intimidate journalists by attacking a well-known Palestinian media figure,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “As living conditions in the Gaza Strip are disastrous, Hamas wants to silence critics and does not hesitate to torture a journalist in order to control media coverage in its territory. This is unacceptable!”

Ramzy Herzallah, a 27-year-old cyber-activist who has often criticized the situation in the Gaza Strip on social networks, was also arrested by Hamas on 3 January. He was finally released yesterday.

Working as a journalist is extremely arduous in the Palestinian Territories, where freedom of information is constantly violated and the media are targeted by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority when they are not being hounded by the Israeli forces. See the RSF report entitled “Palestinian Journalists Caught Between Three Sides.

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