His Excellency Ariel Sharon
Prime Minister of the State of Israel
C/o Mr. Daniel Seaman
Government Press Office
Dear Prime Minister:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to reiterate its deep concern about the ongoing detention of at least three journalists in Israel and the West Bank.
Hossam Abu Alan, a veteran photographer for Agence France-Presse; Youssry al-Jamal, a soundman for Reuters news agency; and Kamel Jbeil, a reporter for the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, were detained by Israeli troops in April and remain under administrative detention without charge.
- Abu Alan was detained on April 24 with another colleague at the Beit Einun checkpoint north of the West Bank town of Hebron while attempting to reach a nearby village to cover the funeral of Palestinian militants killed by Israeli forces. He was handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken into custody and is currently being held at the Ketziot prison in Israel's southern Negev desert.
- A week after Abu Alan's arrest, Israeli forces detained al-Jamal in Hebron on April 30 while he was filming with a colleague near the Al-Ahli Hospital. He is being held in the West Bank's Ofer detention facility.
- The third journalist, Jbeil, was picked up from a Ramallah residence in April. He is also being held in Ofer.
CPJ is currently investigating two other cases of journalists reportedly being held without charge.
Israeli officials have accused Abu Alan, al-Jamal, and Jbeil of having contacts with militant groups, but have provided no details or evidence to support their allegations. In a June 23 letter to CPJ, your adviser Ranaan Gissin wrote that the detained journalists were "arrested on suspicion of having contact (unrelated to their journalistic work) with a terrorist organization." The letter offered no additional details.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, we find it unacceptable that our colleagues continue to languish in detention without being charged with a crime.
We urge you to do everything in your power to see that Youssry al-Jamal, Hossam Abu Alan, Kamel Jbeil, and any other journalists being held without charge are released immediately unless it can be convincingly shown that they may have committed an offense recognizable under international law.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your reply.