New York, May 31, 2001 — CPJ is concerned about the recent detention of two journalists from Newsweek magazine by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
On the early afternoon of May 29, according to international news reports, Newsweek Jerusalem bureau chief Joshua Hammer and photographer Gary Knight were interviewing Palestinian militants in the town of Rafah. The militants claimed to be members of the Fatah Hawks, a militant organization that Palestinian National Authority officials say no longer exists.
During the interview, the militants informed the two journalists that they were being detained “to protest unfair American and British press coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to Newsweek. The journalists’ driver and translator were also detained.
In a statement, the militants said: “This operation comes as a message to the U.S. and British governments to reconsider their calculations and that all their citizens in Palestine and the Arab world will be subject to abduction and killing in case the full, biased and unjustified support continues to the government [of Israel].”
The journalists were allowed to leave unharmed after four and a half hours and said they did not feel threatened, Newsweek reported.
Palestinian officials denied any involvement in the incident.
“We are relieved to see that our colleagues were freed unharmed but view this incident as a worrying threat to working journalists,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We call on the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate that it will not tolerate abuses of press freedom in Palestinian territory.”
The Newsweek article can be read at http://www.msnbc.com/news/default.asp