SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Press and Cultural Freedom Violations in the Levant-September 2019

Saturday , 05 October 2019

In the West Bank, journalist Bassam Al-Sayeh died in an Israeli prison due to medical negligence, a photographer was injured after being shot, a poet was arrested and a journalist was banned from travelling. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers fired bullets at a photographer and two journalists, the Hamas security prevented a journalist from covering local developments and the Public Prosecution questioned another journalist. A citizen journalist was injured by the Syrian regime’s airstrikes in Idlib and the Tahrir al-Sham group arrested two citizen journalists and injured one of them. In Lebanon, three reporters and a photographer were beaten, while two journalists were summoned for questioning. Also, a citizen journalist was questioned, four lawyers appeared before the court and four journalists were threatened. Moreover, a lawsuit was filed against a journalist and a TV channel and Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that Future TV will suspend its work for financial reasons without mentioning any information about the fate of the employees or the way to recover unpaid dues.
Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in all four countries.

In Lebanon, correspondents Georges Abboud, Nakhlé Adaimé and Yazbek Wehbé, as well as photographer Christian Abi Nader, were assaulted, jostled and insulted while covering the protests in downtown Beirut (09/29), and the Criminal Investigation Department summoned Nida’ Al-Watan newspaper’s editor-in-chief Bechara Charbel and managing director George Berbari, because of an article (09/12); six days later, they were questioned at the Justice Palace in Beirut by the Acting Attorney General who then referred the case to the Publications Court.
The Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Bureau questioned online activist Charbel Khoury over a Facebook post (09/03), lawyers Ali Abbas, Fadi Kahil, Zein Allaw and Kassem Jomaa appeared before the Public Prosecutor in the complaint filed against them for insulting the military on social media (09/24), journalists Nadim Koteich, Dima Sadek, Diana Moukalled and Maria Maalouf were threatened on social media because of positions they had expressed (09/03) and the Beirut Pride initiative cancelled the opening night of its third edition amid threats and pressure from religious conservative groups (09/25).
Customs Chief Badri Daher filed a lawsuit against Al-Jadeed TV and journalist Riyad Kobeissi because of a report (09/11) and Lebanese University Rector Fouad Ayoub appealed to the judge of urgent matters to delete articles criticizing him in several media (09/17). Also in September Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that the TV network he owns, Future TV, will suspend its work for financial reasons without mentioning any information about the fate of the employees or the way to recover unpaid dues (09/18).

In Syria, Tahrir al-Sham arrested citizen journalist Mohammad Jadaan in Idlib after the group’s militants opened fire on him at one of their checkpoints, causing him a stomach injury (09/11). The group also arrested citizen journalist Ahmad Rahal eight days after raiding his house and confiscating his media equipment (09/12) and citizen journalist Iyad Abou Al-Joud was injured while covering the Syrian regime’s shelling of southern Idlib countryside (09/26).

In Jordan, no violations were documented on the media and cultural scene during the month of September 2019.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued their violations against Palestinian media professionals who were covering the “Return marches.” Photographer Ahmad Al-Hindi (09/06) and journalists Zakariya Bakir (09/13) and Abdul-Rahman Al-Kahlout (09/20) were injured.
Internally, the Hamas security prevented journalist Maher Al-Zir from covering a game at the behest of the Palestinian Basketball Association (09/06) and the Public Prosecution questioned journalist Mohammad Al-Khalidi in the complaint filed against him by the Ministry of Labour over an investigative report (09/02).

In the West Bank, journalist Bassam Al-Sayeh died in an Israeli prison due to medical negligence and photojournalist Mohammad Turkman was injured after being hit with a rubber-coated bullet (09/11). Israeli forces arrested Wedad Barghouthi, a novelist, poet and lecturer of media at Birzeit University on charges of incitement (09/01) and released her on bail 16 days later. They also prevented journalist Majdoline Hassouna from travelling abroad through the Al-Karama crossing (09/19).
Internally, the Ramallah Magistrate Court postponed the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed shutdown case until October 22 (09/10) and the trial of journalists Rami Samara and Naela Khalil on charges of slander and defamation until November 5 (09/08).

In the 1948 Territories, the Lod District Court held another hearing in the lawsuit filed by an Israeli officer against producer Mohammad Bakri for slander and defamation and postponed it to an undetermined future date (09/23). Also, the Supreme Court postponed the Public Prosecution’s attempt to appeal the ruling by the Nazareth District Court to acquit poet Dareen Tatour to an unknown date (09/08). Finally, Facebook blocked access to journalist Ahmad Jalajel’s page for a week after he published an article about a prisoner’s death (09/08).

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