September 12, 2011
Hon. Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
3 Kaplan St.
Via facsimile +972-2-5664838
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s ongoing detention without charge of Al-Jazeera correspondent Samer Allawi and calls on you to ensure that the journalist is allowed due process.
On August 9, Allawi, the Kabul bureau chief for Al-Jazeera, was arrested at the al-Karama border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank while leaving the Occupied Territories after a three-week vacation in his hometown near Nablus, Al-Jazeera reported. The journalist, who lives in Kabul, was visiting his parents and was not on assignment. The next day, Israeli authorities informed the journalist’s family that he was in custody in administrative detention and would be questioned for four days. At the time, the authorities provided no justification for holding him, saying only that it was a “security-related arrest.” Allawi’s detention has periodically been extended by the military, and on September 5, the military court extended his detention for another eight days. He has yet to be charged and no evidence has been presented against him.
Allawi’s lawyer, Salim Wakeem, told CPJ that he was not allowed to see the journalist from August 31 to September 12 and that his family has not been able to visit him. On September 1, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel–together with its partners Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza–submitted a request to the Haifa District Court to allow Allawi to see a medical specialist for his health conditions. The court has so far refused to make a decision regarding the visit.
Israeli authorities should not hold Allawi for an extended period of time without charge. The journalist must be given access to his lawyer at all times. He must be allowed to see a doctor and be visited by his family. He must be afforded due process. If the Israeli government does not intend to charge him with a crime, Allawi must be released at once.
We urge you to consider this issue a matter of urgency. Israel should reaffirm its commitment to press freedom and fair treatment of journalists and immediately charge or release Samer Allawi.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your response.