Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about Palestinian journalist Mohamed Al-Qiq’s detention by the Israeli authorities for the past eight weeks without a trial or formal charge for supposedly “inciting violence.”
A reporter for the Saudi Islamic TV station Al Majd, Al-Qiq, 33, was arrested at his Ramallah home in the West Bank on 21 November. He is currently held under a six-month “administrative detention” order issued on 20 December. The Israeli security forces used violence to enter his home and interrogate him before arresting him. They also confiscated his electronic equipment. As a result of being on hunger strike for more than 50 days in protest against his arrest, he is now in a critical condition and has been transferred to a hospital in Afula. RSF is concerned not only about the conditions in which he is being held but also the unclear circumstances of his arrest. RSF is not in a position to verify the reasons for his arrest but notes the lack of any formal charge and the murky procedure used to hold him. It therefore calls on the Israeli authorities to free him and to ensure that their investigation is transparent and impartial. So-called “administrative detention” is permitted under Israeli law. It enables the authorities to order a suspect’s detention without referring to a judge on the grounds of a supposed threat to Israel’s security. Al-Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash, told RSF that, at the time of his arrest, the security forces interrogated him at length about his work as a journalist. She also said that he has been mistreated in detention and that his access to a lawyer has been restricted. His brother told RSF that the Israelis arrested him for no apparent reason aside from his work as a journalist. “He followed the political situation in the West Bank,” the brother said. “He covered clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, and analysed news developments.” Employed by Al Majd for the past six years, Al-Qiq was previously arrested by the Israeli authorities in 2003 and 2004, and received a 16-month jail sentence in 2008 in connection his membership of the student council at his university, where he was suspected of links with Hamas. A campaign in support of Al-Qiq, who is a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, is being organized on the streets of Ramallah and on social networks by Al Majd and his colleagues. His detention comes at a time of great tension between Palestinians and Israelis. Since the start of the current violence in September, RSF has registered three closures of Palestinian media outlets and at least 50 attacks on journalists, some of whom were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers.