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Reporters Without Borders condemns Hamas for 'torture' of journalist

Jan. 15, 2016 9:43 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2016 11:38 A.M.)
A Palestinian Hamas policeman reads a copy of the Al-Ayyam newspaper in Gaza City on May 8, 2014. (AFP/Mohammed Abed, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Media rights group Reporters Without Borders earlier this week condemned the Hamas movement after a Palestinian journalist reported mistreatment while held in detention in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalist Ayman al-Alul was detained on Jan. 3 and released eight days later after being accused by Hamas of “disturbing public order and manipulating public opinion.”

A well-known journalist with an active following on social media, al-Alul reportedly announced that he would no longer cover dismal living conditions or political developments in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after harsh treatment in jail, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The media rights group said that al-Alul was “tortured” during his detention, a “clearly traumatic experience” that has reportedly led to self-censorship by the journalist.

In an interview with international news agency AFP on Wednesday, al-Alul said that the torture took the form of verbal abuse and psychological torture, adding that the reason for his detention was "to remove criticism of the government in Gaza."

Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, discussing al-Alul’s arrest, said: “Hamas is trying to intimidate journalists by attacking a well-known Palestinian media figure.

“As living conditions in the Gaza Strip are disastrous, Hamas wants to silence critics and does not hesitate to torture a journalist in order to control media coverage in its territory," Deloire said.

Journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory come under censorship by the Hamas movement as well as the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and Israel, according to the group.

Last week, Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank detained and released Palestinian Salim Sweidan following a report the journalist published that accused the PA of assisting Israel in detaining Palestinian locals.

Sweidan’s detention came weeks after PA security forces reportedly assaulted journalists in the Ramallah area, preventing them from covering clashes that had broken out between the forces and protesters.

The Palestinian Center for Developments and Media Freedoms (MADA) reported in June that violations by Palestinian security forces in 2014 had reached their highest since 2008.

Palestinian journalists also come under severe restrictions and violations from Israeli forces, 2014 marking a particularly deadly year for reporters, 17 of whom were reportedly killed by Israeli forces during the war in the Gaza Strip.

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