CPJ urges Israel to free Palestinian photographer

New York, October 21, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urges the Israeli government to release Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Hussam Abu Alan, who has been held without charge for nearly six months. According to AFP’s Jerusalem bureau, Abu Alan’s period of administrative detention is scheduled to expire tomorrow.

Abu Alan was detained on April 24 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.

Administrative detentions, usually set for up to six-month periods, are renewable at the Israeli military’s discretion. Abu Alan’s release was originally scheduled for July, but his detention was extended.

Kamel Jbeil, with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, and Youssry al-Jamal, a soundman for Reuters, were released without charge on September 15 and October 9, respectively. The two journalists had also been held in administrative detention since April. [Click here for more information]

Like Jbeil and al-Jamal, Israeli authorities have accused Abu Alan of having contacts with militant groups but have provided no details or evidence to support their allegations.

“The release of Jbeil and al-Jamal indicates that these journalists never should have been jailed in the first place,” said CPJ executive director, Ann Cooper. “It is time the Israeli government put an end to this unacceptable situation and release Hussam Abu Alan.”