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The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Hamas detains British journalist

Hamas detains British journalist

One of the stories that inspired this blog was the detention of Jared Maslin, a Jewish-American journalist for Ma’an News Agency, covered here on our sisterblog Muzzlewatch. Well, unfortunately Hamas seems to be learning from its adversary with its own detention of freelance filmmaker and journalist Paul Martin.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab Ghussein said in a statement that Martin is suspected of breaking Palestinian law, but did not elaborate.

He said Martin met with a British consular official Sunday and had chosen a local lawyer to represent him. Gaza’s attorney general ordered Martin held for 15 days, Ghussein said.

The spokesman said the arrest warrant was prompted by the confession of a defendant charged with collaborating with Israel. The defendant “has confessed against the British journalist and said he (Martin) violated Palestinian law and the security in Gaza,” Ghussein said.

The arrest of Martin was an unprecedented step by Hamas against a foreign journalist. Hamas has prided itself in ending the lawlessness of vigilante gunmen, and has largely stayed clear of foreign journalists since seizing the territory in 2007. It was not immediately clear whether Martin’s arrest signaled a change in policy.”

Here’s hoping that Hamas and Israel both learn that arresting journalists does far more damage to their security then whatever the reporters might say.

For some context, Israel is ranked 93rd on the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index and is in “free fall” after the Gaza War. That ranking is still much higher than the Palestinian Territories, but now lower then neighbors Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates. and Lebanon.

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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