Amnesty International Decries Palestinian Crackdown on Journalists

YERUSHALAYIM -

Amnesty International on Wednesday decried a crackdown on journalists in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza.

“The last few months have seen a sharp escalation in attacks by the Palestinian authorities in Yehudah and Shomron and Hamas in Gaza on journalists and the media in a bid to silence dissent,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International. “This is a chilling setback for freedom of expression in Palestine.”

The statement comes after the PA arrested five journalists earlier this month, who work for Hamas-affiliated news outlets, for allegedly “leaking sensitive information to hostile authorities,” according to PA-run media.

The arrests came after the PA implemented a cybercrimes law, which gives authorities sweeping power to jail anyone “who aims to publish news that would endanger the integrity of the Palestinian state, the public order or the internal or external security of the state.”

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and others have called on the PA to revoke the repressive measure.

In June, the PA blocked several websites critical of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile in Gaza, Hamas has also been arresting and detaining journalists and activists who have made comments critical of Hamas on social media.

Amnesty says it has evidence that one of the activists was likely tortured while in Hamas’s custody.

The PA recently released the journalists it arrested in August, while Hamas also set free a journalist it put behind bars in June.