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Friday, March 14, 2008

Freedom of the Press, Moderate Palestinian Arab-style

PCHR says:
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, 12 March 2008, armed members of the PSS, accompanied by 3 officers in civilian clothes, stormed the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency in al-Wehaidi Building in al-Masyoun neighborhood in Ramallah. They requested Nawaf Ibrahim al-‘Aamer, 48, an editor, to accompany them. However, he asked them to show an arrest warrant, and they showed a warrant issued by the Attorney General’s office allowing entering the headquarters and arresting him. Members of the PSS confiscated all belongings of al-‘Aamer and a computer set. They also broke into the dormitory of the agency’s staff and confiscated all documents in the room where al-‘Aamer lives. They then arrested him.

In his testimony to PCHR, journalist Nawaf al-‘Aamer stated:

They took me in a military vehicle to the headquarters of the PSS in Ramallah. They took my personal data and photographed me. They then moved me to the headquarters of the PSS in Bitounia town. They interrogated me in 6 sessions. They asked me about my e-mail and wanted to have my password. They wanted to check my e-mail claiming that there are materials related to Palestinian security. I refused to open my e-mail without the presence of my director or the President of the Union of Journalists, but they insisted. At approximately 23:00, I agreed to open my e-mail on a private computer. They allowed a relative of mine to come and bring a laptop. I opened my e-mail, and the interrogators downloaded all messages. At approximately 04:00 on Thursday, 13 March 22008, they released me after Ramattan Press Agency and other people had mediated. However, they requested me to come to the headquarters of the PSS at 14:00 to continue the interrogation.”

And Ramattan is not particularly extremist, compared to many other media outlets there.