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Condition of Woman Jailed for Insulting Abbas on Facebook Deteriorating in Isolation

Palestinian journalists demonstrating in Ramallah over arrests.

Palestinian journalists demonstrating in Ramallah over arrests.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that the condition of Ismat Abdul Khaliq, the Palestinian woman who had been arrested over her critical writings about PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is deteriorating in an isolation cell in prison.

Abdul Khaliq was seen by doctors late Tuesday before being returned to her cell, said Nihad Abu Ghosh, a member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. He said the prosecution is refusing to let her see visitors.

Prosecutors accuse Abdul Khaliq of writing a Facebook status update criticizing Abbas. She has been held since last week after a court extended her detention for 15 days, along with a newspaper reporter.

The arrest followed a complaint by the preventive security service, PA officials said.

Abdul Khaliq was one of two Palestinians arrested in a week for Facebook updates criticizing Abbas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. Two news reporters have been detained during the same period.

Human Rights Watch called on the PA to “release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.”

In a press release, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch, called on both the Palestinian Authority and Israel to stop harassing and arresting journalists. “These attacks send a chilling message about exercising the right to free expression,” Whitson wrote.

In an even handed rebuke of both Israel and the PA, the Human Rights Watch release continued:

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) should not criminally prosecute Yusuf al-Shayeb, a journalist detained without charge on March 26, 2012, and released on April 2, Human Rights Watch said today. He is being investigated for libeling PA officials whom he accused of spying and corruption. The PA should also release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.

“Israeli authorities should not prosecute Adel Rweished, an administrator at Al Quds University whom Israeli police detained on April 2, 2012 during a raid on the university’s media center in Jerusalem’s old city. Police broke up an event marking the launch of a new website, and also arrested a security guard. They released both men but summoned them for further questioning. The arrests were based on an Israeli order stating that the Palestinian Authority had organized the event, but Israeli officials provided no evidence to support that claim, which university officials denied. Israel does not allow the Palestinian Authority to operate politically in Jerusalem. It was the second Israeli raid on media programs at Al Quds University since February 29.”

About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.


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