Another Palestinian journalist was arrested by the Palestinian Authority yesterday. Like Yousef al-Shayeb who was arrested last week, Tariq Khamis was arrested for writing things that the PA does not want the public to know.
Khamis, who writes for Zaman Press, told The Electronic Intifada today that the reason for his arrest was more to do with an article about Palestinian youth groups he had written than anything he had written on Facebook.
Khamis said: “The [PA] regime is very similar to other Arab regimes. If the PA had trust in themselves, they would let journalists get on with their work. But because of their mistakes and corruption, they fear the work of journalists”.
A spokesperson for the PA security forces told Maan news agency today that Khamis was arrested ”in connection with the case” of Ismat Abdul Khaliq, who had reportedly called for the “the traitor Mahmoud Abbas” to be overthrown.
Facebook comments not main cause
But Khamis told The Electronic Intifada that while comments he had written about the case on Facebook had been a trigger for the PA to arrest him, during the three-hour interrogation, they had been more interested in his article.
They came to his al-Bireh office on Sunday, to investigate his journalism, he said. They seemed most interested in an article he had written about Palestinian youth groups who are critical of the PA, and who call for ending negotiations with Israel. They asked him who he worked for the benefit of. Update: Khamis emailed this link to the article in question [Arabic].
Khamis told The Electronic Intifada they only released him after word got out that Palestinian journalists were planning a demonstration in Ramallah calling for his release.
Khamis said his article about the incident would be published by Zaman Press tonight.
When asked by The Electronic Intifada whether this was the end of the story, or if the PA would come for him again, Khamis said they would probably come again, since this was the sixth time the PA had interrogated him.
Yousef al-Shayeb released on bail after journalists’ outcry
In related news, Yousef al-Shayeb was released on bail today after a successful appeal.
The journalist had been remanded for 15 days last week. There were unconfirmed reports today he has been released to hospital. He had gone on hunger strike in protest of his imprisonment.
As I reported for The Electronic Intifada, Al-Shayeb had written an article in January in which anonymous sources had accused the PA diplomatic mission in France of spying and corruption.
The Palestinian journalists’ union had called for journalists to boycott a PA journalism award planned for May in protest of al-Shayeb’s arrest.
Lana Khoury provided translation from Arabic for this report.