From Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
A Palestinian security agency holding a Hebron journalist in detention for criticizing the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) regime in Ramallah has refused to heed a court order to release him, his family said Thursday.
A Ramallah court has ruled that the continued internment of Awadh Rajoub was unlawful and that he ought to be set free immediately.
Rajoub was arrested by the Preventive Security Force nearly three weeks ago, reportedly for “smearing the image of the Palestinian Authority” and “generating incitement” against the Palestinian security apparatus.
He vehemently denied the charges, calling his arrest and continued incarceration a “blatant violation of the rule of law” and “a flagrant assault on press freedom.”
Rajoub also denounced the “deafening silence” displayed by the Palestinian Journalists’ Union (PJU) toward his plight.
“This shows that the ‘union’ is no more than a propaganda tool in the hands of the regime,” Rajoub was quoted as saying by a relative who visited him in prison last week.
Rajoub works for the Arabic service of al-Jazeera.net and PA security officials reportedly were disquieted by reports he had written criticizing the “close collusion” between Israeli occupation forces and PA police forces against Hamas’ sympathizers and civilian institutions in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian General Intelligence continues to detain another Palestinian journalist from the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya for the fourth consecutive week.
The journalist, Mustafa Sabri, was summoned for interrogation nine times in the last two years, his wife said.
Sabri, who is also an elected member of Qalqilya’s municipal council, had spent a few years in Israeli jails for his peaceful opposition to the Israeli occupation.
Earlier this week, Sabri’s lawyer petitioned the High Court in Ramallah to order the government to release him.
However, the lawyer intimated that he was worried that the security agencies would overrule the court, hinting that the Palestinian justice system was still effectively subservient to the security apparatus.