Beirut, June 6, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Palestinian authorities to release Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh, a reporter for the Hamas-affiliated news website Quds News Network, or disclose charges against him.
Palestinian Preventive Security forces detained Shalaldeh shortly after he arrived for questioning at the security forces’ headquarters in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on June 3, according to news reports, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), and Shalaldeh’s brother, Loay Shalaldeh.
Loay Shalaldeh and Nabhan Khraisi, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate’s communication officer, told CPJ that Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh expected to be released after security forces interrogated him about his arrest by Israeli security forces in February; however, a security services officer called the journalist’s father to say Shalaldeh would be held for longer, though did not specify why. The officer also asked him to bring clothes for his son, according to the same sources.
Shalaldeh has not been charged, while his detention has been extended until tomorrow, according to Loay Shalaldeh, citing conversations with his father, and Khraisi.
“We are concerned about the detention of Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh given the Palestinian Authority’s paltry record on respecting the rights of journalists,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour from Washington, D.C. “The authorities must explain immediately on what grounds he is being held or release him and allow him to do his job freely.”
The Palestinian Interior Ministry, which oversees the Preventive Security forces, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Israeli security forces arrested Shalaldeh at his family home in the southern West Bank town of Sa’ir on February 15. They seized two cell phones and a laptop from the journalist without bringing any charges against him or disclosing the reasons for his arrest, CPJ reported at the time. Shalaldeh was released on April 1, according to Loay Shaladeh.
On June 1, Shalaldeh wrote on his personal Facebook account that he had received threats via Facebook Messenger from a user identified as Husam, who said he worked for the Palestinian Preventive Security forces. In the Facebook chat, Husam warned Shalaldeh to think twice before talking about the Preventive Security forces.
Shalaldeh covers human interest stories and news in the West Bank for Quds News Network. His recent stories includes a piece on a young Palestinian who continues to protest at al-Arroub refugee camp despite being injured several times by Israeli forces and a story about the son of a suicide bomber excelling in high school.
Palestinian authorities blocked access to Quds and several other news websites affiliated with Hamas and former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan in June 2017, according to the regional press freedom group SKeyes. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said that access to Quds in the West Bank is still blocked.
Shalaldeh was previously detained for questioning by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service in the West Bank city of Bethlehem in mid-July 2017 for conducting street interviews about a Palestinian cybercrime law, according to news reports. He was released four hours later, according to the same reports.