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Friday, December 31, 2010

Freedom of the press, 'Palestinian' style

US-trained 'Palestinian security forces' detained a 'Palestinian' journalist for five days after he reported on tensions between 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen and former Gaza security chieftain Mohamed Dahlan (Hat Tip: Daily Alert).
George Canawati of Radio Bethlehem was held in an office at the city's general intelligence service headquarters over the Muslim holiday of Eid last month, according to an account he has given to the Guardian. He was provided with a mattress to sleep on, and food, but was given no explanation for his continued detention beyond an initial three-hour interrogation.

Asked if he believed the detention was intended to intimidate him, Canawati responded by twisting his ear between thumb and forefinger. "I didn't make a mistake [in my report]," he said. "I was professional to the true sense of the word. I will never take their pinch of ear into consideration."

Despite requests by both phone and email for confirmation and comment from the Palestinian Authority (PA), there has been no response. This report is based on Canawati's account alone.

On 15 November at around 2pm, Radio Bethlehem broadcast a short item saying that Mohamed Dahlan, a senior Fatah figure, had played a recording made on a mobile phone of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to some members of Fatah's central committee. According to Canawati's report, the recording was of Abbas saying he wanted a Palestinian state regardless of whether it was inside or outside the wall – meaning the separation barrier Israel has constructed, much of it on Palestinian land.

Canawati – who has not heard the recording himself – based his report on a source within Fatah's central committee. "I confirmed the news from a credible person and that is enough for me to publish a report," Canawati said. The source was "someone I trust", he added.


Shortly after Canawati's report was broadcast, he received a visit from the intelligence services. He was told to close down the radio station, and to accompany the official for questioning. "I was told it would be for 10 minutes. It took me five days," he said.

Canawati was questioned about the source of his story. "They treated me really good, they didn't put pressure on me. After three hours they told me to call the radio station to resume broadcasting. I was expecting to be released."

The journalist was told that his release had been delayed and that normal procedures did not apply because of the Eid holiday. His mobile phone was taken away, although he was allowed to speak to his wife, and his mother was permitted to bring him clean clothes.

He had given his interrogators all the information they needed, including the name of his source. "I told them exactly what happened, I didn't know why they were keeping me," he said. He was eventually released on 19 November.
I wonder if his source is still among the living. Would you want to be a source for this guy? I wouldn't tell him a thing.

But just give them a 'state' and they'll stop behaving like this, right?

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