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Palestinian security forces arrest journalist Yousef al-Faqeeh
January 24, 2019
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the arrest of Palestinian journalist Yousef al-Faqeeh, a reporter for the London-based Quds Press News Agency, and called on the Palestinian Authority to release him immediately.

On January 16, 2019 officers from the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Preventive Security forces raided the house of Yousef al-Faqeeh in the village of al-Burj, near the southern West Bank city of Dura. Al-Faqeeh is a reporter for the London-based Quds Press News Agency. PPS members arrested him without stating the reason for his arrest, according to news reports, his employer, the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, and the local press freedom group Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).

Al-Faqeeh's wife, Suhad, told SKeyes that Preventive Security officers raided the house and, when Yousef asked whether they had a search or arrest warrant, they proceeded to arrest him.

"They took him to an unknown destination and didn't mention the reason for his arrest," she told SKeyes.

The security officers seized al-Faqeeh's computer and cell phone during the raid, according to his brother Noh who was cited in news reports.

"He has been accused with inciting sectarian strife under the cybercrime law and was interrogated about articles he has posted and posts he has written on his Facebook account," Firas Karajeh, al-Faqeeh's attorney and a lawyer with MADA, told CPJ.

Karajeh did not specify which articles and posts al-Faqeeh was asked about. A CPJ review of his recent publications found that on December 9, 2018, al-Faqeeh published an article in the Palestinian cultural magazine Ishraqat, which he also posted to his Facebook feed, calling on the Palestinian Authority to sever ties with Israel and allow for civil disobedience demonstrations throughout the West Bank against the occupation of the territory.

On January 20, a Magistrate Court judge extended al-Faqeeh's detention until January 27, denying a request by the local prosecutor to hold him until February 4. Under Article 24 of the Palestinian cybercrime law, inciting sectarian strife online can be punished with hard labor and fines of up to 10,000 Jordanian dinars ($14,000).